Comment of the Day: The North Shepherd Express

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE NORTH SHEPHERD EXPRESS “RE: DOT I-45 IMPROVEMENTS: I wonder why North Shepherd isn’t included as a ‘parallel route’ for development ‘to add capacity & alleviate congestion.’ It’s already a wide, straight corridor with a direct N-S orientation but (currently) too slow to be a viable alternative to I-45 (except under extreme crash/flooding conditions.) Many I-45 North drivers are headed to areas in The Heights, Galleria and points in-between, and, neither the Sam Houston/Beltway 8 Loop nor the Hardy Tollway are their paths of choice. Center lanes of Shepherd could be elevated as an express route. Below it, neighborhood traffic would be unaffected and the area could rejuvenate (or whatever developers call it these days) to a residential/light commercial area. There is currently a multi-unit project planned for the area, on Rittenhouse . . .” [movocelot, commenting on Headlines: The Push for Waterfront Homes; Unintended Light Show at the Rice Skyspace]

25 Comment

  • If you look around, you’ll find that elevated roadways do not rejuvenate areas. They depress them. They block sunlight, are generally unsightly, and project road noise for long distances. Shepherd/Durham has been enhanced to move traffic as quickly as possible with stoplight synchronization. It could be further enhanced with some limited access and a few underpasses at busy intersections. However, building a hideous viaduct above it will likely doom the thoroughfare to Eleysian Viaduct status.

  • Here we go again. Let’s just build more urban freeways to satisfy suburban commuters. Freeways do NOT improve established urban neighborhoods especially when you put one in the middle of it. In fact, they depress neighborhoods! Your comment is as ridiculous as someone suggesting to build elevated freeway lanes on your precious suburban gateway boulevards (ie Woodlands Pkwy, Kingwood Dr or Cinco Ranch Blvd).

  • I like the idea of an upgraded corridor between the “Shepherd Curve” on I-45 and Allen Pkwy.

    It doesn’t mean that it should necessarily be a continuously grade-separated thoroughfare. I’d think that a few grade separations and some flyovers at 610 and I-10 could go a long way.

    If there have to be elevated sections, then place ample full-spectrum fluorescent lighting underneath. Doing so keeps those areas well-lit, but also shaded. It’s the best of both worlds for pedestrians.

  • How ’bout a bridge across Buffalo Bayou between Shepherd and 610?

  • Why don’t we just cement in the Bayou between Memorial and Allen Parkway and use that as a thoroughfare? That would sure ease congestion on I-10 .

  • How about light rail on N. Shepherd? Taking one lane from N. Shepherd & Durham would be easy. Lots of land already for sale (or potentially for sale — surely a car lot or two could be easily bought out). Stations could be built there and limited business interruption. Neighbors would love it (at least this one would). Rail would help clean out the sketchy businesses — pawn shops, used car lots, mechanic shops, title loan, etc. It might even help make a few areas more walkable.

  • Once TxDot figures out how to funnel the maximum amount of tax-payer funded corporate welfare to their cronies in the highway building industry to get it done, Shepherd might become an alternative.

  • It’s funny to watch commenters make statements that have no basis in reality.

  • @kjb434

    In that case, we should build a hovercraft express lane- were pretty close to 2015 and government incentives are needed to invent usable hovercraft to meet the realistic expectations of Back to the Future, part II


  • Speaking of elevated roadway, I can’t wait til they finish the Elysian viaduct. Today, if you have to get to Hardy Toll Road from Downtown and take Elysian st, if you get a flat tire, you WILL be murdered for a Klondike bar.

  • Instead of an elevated route, how about a tunnel! Change that. How about a combination light rail at grade, tunnel road below, and an elevate park/green space? Or should it be park/green space in the tunnel, and light rail elevated?

  • I’m with Eddie, if you chose to live in The Woodlands, you get to deal with the commute! Those of us that live in the loop should not have to pay for your choice.

  • jwood: Does your plan include any rocket ziplines?

  • @spoonman The plan isn’t finalized, so we could probably work that in. Perhaps we could power the rocket ziplines with horizontal wind turbines that capture the wind from the fast moving train/traffic…

  • Good ideas all! I think Westcott should be extended to reach Kirby Drive across Buffalo Bayou. Only two houses would need to be removed.

  • I agree with JCK, additional road capacity should be paid for by the people that use it. Grade separations along the Shepherd corridor should be tolled.

    Actually though, I was looking at the map and realized that if Shepherd could be upgraded from I-45 to the Buffalo Bayou, then there’s probably a business case to create a below-grade express route (perhaps all reversible lanes) that continues onward to Greenway Plaza and ultimately the Texas Medical Center. This would eliminate a great deal of traffic along the West Loop and through the downtown area.

    What’d be really interesting would be if such a tunnel could terminate at the banks of both the Buffalo and Brays bayous, providing a stormwater diversion channel between watersheds that would be just upstream of the two places where flooding can cause the most damage: downtown and the TMC.

    We’ve got a couple of engineers on here. Never mind political feasibility, do y’all think that there would be any merit to this idea?

  • It actually isn’t that bad of an idea, except that it just isn’t a long enough stretch of road to make that much of a difference. Shep from 45 to 610 is only 4 miles. You can generally make it from 45 to 610 on Shep in @10 minutes or less. An express lane would only cut 5 minutes off of commute time in exchange for a very expense road project with two spaghetti like junctions at 45 and 610. But, if anyone had to take one for the team, N. Shep is certainly a prime candidate. If you had a wreck or broke down on the way to 610, the last chance car dealers would swarm you with cash offers for your car.

  • Niche, that’s a cool idea. Make the below-grade express lanes a tunnel and bingo: cross-town traffic eased without adding noise and dirt or removing too many businesses.

  • What I love about this ideas is watching all the money I put into my Garden Oaks house slowly bleed away as my property value plumets. I know, I am such a NIMBY, but after all, a house is the biggest investment one can make. But, I guess if you are just flying by why would you care? Right now Shepherd is nightmare during rush hour and extremely loud to live near. I am all for looking into light rail as an alternative, but someday we need to quit drinking the kool aid on more lanes, more alternative routes (aka, more freeways/tollroads) and truly start caring about quality of life issues.

  • Some day, SJ. Some day. Not now.

  • Nothing quite like the irony of someone complaining about living near a busy/noisy road and their effect on their land values while demanding that more freeways and tollways and lanes get built. As long as they’re near someone else’s house, right?

  • Heyzues, if you read my post I did not say I supported more roads and freeways, in fact, I said we need to look at alternatives.

  • I misread that SJ. Apologies.

  • I think turning Shepherd into an Allen Parkway style road would work. Below grade, lots of cross overs for pedestrians. In fact creating “bridge parks” would help make sure the neighborhoods stay together. Check out some bridge parks below:

  • Looks like Dallas might beat us to it.

    This could work on 59 between Shepherd and Main, 59 in Downtown, I-45 in the Heights, I-10 going into the Heights area.