A Crowdsaving for Walter’s Downtown; What To Do with an After-Freeway Pierce Elevated; More Surface Parking for IAH

Buffalo Bayou Near America Center, North Montrose, Houston

Photo of Buffalo Bayou: Swamplot inbox


11 Comment

  • So if they’re getting rid of the cell phone lot, where will we park after being shoo’d away by the militant TSA officers in charge of making sure nobody slows down below 15mph when trying to pick up passengers arriving at baggage claim?

  • Not so sure the claim of Bonnie & Clyde being patrons of the Heights Theatre would stand up to scrutiny.

  • is that the sewer where IT lives?

  • As a resident close to midtown, but closer to the GRB it pisses me off to no end that people want to keep the elevated. The whole point of redirecting traffic and making downtown less accessible for the east and north side is to make midtown more accessible to downtown. not getting rid of the pierce doesn’t do that.
    Move the freeway and rip out the pierce (selling the land), or expand the pierce over pierce street and leave the other areas alone. So idiotic.

  • I’ve never understood the argument for how the Pierce Elevated “separates” Downtown from Midtown. EVERY SINGLE NORTH-SOUTH STREET GOES UNDER IT! Houston is a lot better at maintaining local access across freeways than any other place I’ve lived, including Austin.

    The biggest problem with the freeways downtown is the lack of *through* lanes. This is a legacy of 60s planning that thought most people were going to or from downtown and few people ever going *past* it.

    Look at eastbound IH-10. 5 lanes approaching 45, 5 lanes departing from 45, but only 2 through lanes between the Smith exit and the next onramp. 59 northbound–same thing–5 lanes approaching downtown, 5 lanes leaving, but only 3 in between. That’s the problem. Add lanes in places like that and you fix most of the backups without spending billions of dollars to move 45 on top of 59 and add little to no new capacity.

  • @Dave102: I don’t understand it, either. I ride my bike under the Pierce Elevated twice a week with ease. My guess is that the structure isn’t what is separating Downtown from Midtown, but the people who hang out underneath it.
    I also agree about the lack of through lanes. It’s easy to get into and out of downtown. Much harder to get through or around it.

  • IF this hwy thing happens and the Pierce Elevated is left hanging… it would make an awesome park for roller-blading and family biking.
    But it would be better torn down to open up the sky.
    Plus, TX beaches are always going to need more rip-rap.

  • “My guess is that the structure isn’t what is separating Downtown from Midtown, but the people who hang out underneath it.”
    Yeah, safe to pass through, but there’s definitely an Atreyu moment of passing through the Sphinxes’ Gate when you get within a block of that long elevated overpass.

  • Agreed. The Pierce Elevated isn’t the big bad barrier people think it to be. US 59 is the big bad barier and Minute Maid Park, the George R. Brown, and Toyota Center are its accomplices. In fact, that issue is set to get even worse if the current plans are brought to fruition, with additional widening of the ROW, street closures, and more constrained access from the south and southeast part of town to Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway. A cynic could almost get the impression that somebody was trying to build a great north-south barrier dividing rich Houston from poor Houston.

    I happen to think that the Pierce ROW should be used as a series of ramps that serve to balance the inbound/outbound direction of traffic flow on the Downtown and Midtown grid so that there isn’t too much east/west movement toward a few gateways along the Great Wall of Houston (especially during a major sporting event or convention). If it doesn’t get used as such immediately then the ROW should be preserved for when congestion gets bad again and we need to start looking at options.

    I don’t mind keeping the freeway section in place instead of demolishing it. Demolition costs money and it shouldn’t be done if there isn’t a clear public safety concern or a compelling alternative use that is also compatible with the goal of preserving the ROW. There’s nothing wrong with the existence of an urban ruin. Let artists paint it or build a ramp onto it and use the deck and the area below as a parking lot or do both.

  • The people who want to keep the Pierce Elevated as a park are incensed by New York’s High Line. They saw what that has done for Manhattan, and they want one. But there are some very important differences: namely, the size of the structures. The High Line varies from 30 to 50 feet wide, and it’s 25 feet high. The Pierce Elevated is lower, around 15 feet, and much wider: 200 feet. This means there will be much less sunlight and a much less pleasant space under the Pierce Elevated park, than is shown on the renderings. It’s going to have the same problems it does today, only it will have a park on top.
    I think a better model to follow is Boston’s big dig. They tore down their elevated Central Artery, put the road underground, and created a park at street level. I’m not saying we should put the Pierce Elevated underground, but the roads were similar in size and scope, and a street level park has been a huge success in Boston.

  • Those cell phone lots are a great idea, but get no respect. You are either are in a big dark lot and/or dodging unpaved gravel puddles – – and void of security Let’s upgrade to make them a viable part of the pick-up process that anyone would feel safe to use.