Comment of the Day: Swapping Out Memorial Dr.’s Speedway Setup for Something Worth Walking

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SWAPPING OUT MEMORIAL DR.’S SPEEDWAY SETUP FOR SOMETHING WORTH WALKING Remove the freeway configuration of Memorial Dr. from Shepherd to Downtown. An urban street is all that is needed here since this mid-century design was prior to I-10 and was the original route for Katy-bound suburbanites. The bayou is now the destination — not a place to flee at break-neck speeds. Besides, the freeway configuration is useless as it ends prior to Memorial Park. The configuration has exceeded its useful life and is actually in very poor condition. Reasonable thought to an improved alternative is preferred and hopefully includes more park space.” [El Chico, commenting on Plucking the Cloverleafs off Waugh Dr. at Memorial So Extra Park Space Can Take Their Place] Illustration: Lulu

20 Comment

  • Hmmm, Now I wonder how busy Memorial to downtown really is each morning? Could the traffic volume work with 2 lanes instead of 3?

  • Says the person that never uses it. Hell no.

  • Sometimes it feels like people on this site lob in ideas just to spite drivers.

    To address the substance of this proposal – short of scrapping Memorial Drive entirely and jamming everyone onto Allen Parkway (not to give anyone any ideas…), it’s hard to imagine how any re-configuration would result in more park space. It’s a linear park, and it has a road running parallel through it. Not much you can do.

    IMO, much better to have cars get through the park at 50mph on a 100% non-pedestrian-street than to try and re-do Memorial Drive into an at-grade “urban street” with mixed traffic like Allen Parkway (resulting in a bunch of cars idling at stoplights, and extra parking lots that further carve out park space alongside).

  • I will repeat by comments to those griping about the change. The new interchange will be better for traffic, even with a red-light than a traditional clover-leaf. The cloverleaf -interchange is one of the least efficient ways to change roads. It forces cars to slow down which have a wave effect on traffic. It forces weaving, which has a wave effect on traffic and its dangerous anyone in the merge lane. You’ll note that Memorial to Heights has no real acceleration lane. Finally, Cloverleaf interchanges take up the most amount of land in comparison to other interchanges. It create more space by essentially giving back the land were the loops are to the park, these areas are essentially inaccessible to pedestrians in the current configuration.

  • Go away hippies

  • An urban street needs something retail or residential or office on at least one side of the street. There isn’t enough space to build on either side. Even if the road is made smaller with only one lane each way, some land needs to be taken away from the park itself to build anything of substance alongside the road. This will result in less green park land.

    Let’s say we build urban street without anything on either side to appease the commentator. Montrose is the only road right now without vehicular access to Memorial Drive. Is this access that important?

    If commentator’s sole is just walkability then there’s a trail alongside the bayou that is more or less parallel to Memorial Drive.

    I just do not see any extra benefit the proposal provides over the current setup.

  • This stretch of Memorial is one of the few routes in town that isn’t fubar with stoplights and traffic. Leave it that way.

  • The intensification of park usage along banks of Buffalo Bayou disturbs me. The banks of Buffalo Bayou are probably not the greatest place for fancy park things that have to be repaired and restored every time it floods, which is like always. The natural wild vegetation and a few trails is all it should ever be. People can go to Discovery Green and Herman Park for the other stuff.

  • Memorial Drive is a convenient way for professionals who live near Galleria, Bunker Hill, Rice Military to commute downtown without having to venture into the amalgamation of human misery that is I-10. Could there be one fewer lane, sure. But how would that make for a better park. They should improve the bridges over memorial instead, and they should extend the buffalo bayou park to the galleria area. That would add 500% more benefit to users than making the buffalo bayou part 10% wider.

  • Hate to say it but I agree with Anonymous. Give the banks of the bayou back to the nature. This area will continue to flood no matter how much you “beautify” it.

  • please leave memorial alone!!!

  • OP doesn’t live in town. Memorial downtown to Shep is the most fun stretch of road to open up a fun car. If you are serious about knocking out a stretch… look at 610W between 59 and 10, similar to dropping the Elevated.

  • Allen Parkway was a fun drive too before the Buffalo Bayou Park crowd added all those signalized crosswalks.

  • Turning Memorial Drive into an urban street would probably entail selling freed-up land along the Bayou to developers, not creating more park space–there’s already plenty of greenspace along the Bayou there, many many acres of it.
    But frankly, while I’m always in favor of more pedestrian-friendly streets, I’m not sure I see an ideal spot for targeted development right there. All construction would have to be well-elevated from future flooding. There’s not really a tight-knit grid of nearby residential density. It’s not a high-frequency transit corridor. I could perhaps see turning it into a light rail line and then building up around that; but I think Washington Avenue would make much more sense for light rail right of way because it’s much better-connected to surrounding density and would benefit much more from being “pedestrianized” if you will.

  • Open space in an urban context can be experienced in a positive way while in a car, and for many people who do not have time to dally, this is the only positive urban experience that they are likely to have on a regular basis. The idea of a ‘parkway’ is not inherently evil. And yes, it requires land, and yes, urban land is a precious thing…but when it generates both appreciation and a sheer volume of use, that is justified on more than simply a utilitarian basis.

  • Just make this part of the underground flood tunnel tollway. It can break south from I-10 diagonally underneath Memorial Park and then take over both Memorial Dr and Allen Pkwy. The entire thing could be a park from Memorial Park to downtown. Future generations will thank their lucky stars.

  • A much better idea would be to buy out everything south of Memorial Drive and north of the Bayou between Shepherd and Memorial Park (possibly leaving the commercial directly on Memorial) and linking Buffalo Bayou Park to Memorial Park. But that will never happen, much like turning Memorial into a urban screen east of Shepherd.

  • That would include Bayou Bend.

  • I agree with The Niche. When I lived in the Sixth Ward off Sawyer, many times I had a choice of taking either I-59/I-45 home from the Bellaire area or taking Memorial. I almost always choose Memorial. The trees and park are a much more soothing drive.

  • @GoogleMaster: Yes it would include Bayou Bend Collection and Garden’s and Brenner’s on the Bayou, but there are ways to incorporate those into a city park. (Much like The Dunlavy that is already in Buffalo Bayou Park for Brenner’s.) Now if you are talking about the Bayou Bend Towers, just tear them down. (But like I said, this idea will never happen)