Comment of the Day: Those I-45 Express Lane Plans Are Cute Now But Just Wait Until They Grow Up

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THOSE I-45 EXPRESS LANE PLANS ARE CUTE NOW BUT JUST WAIT UNTIL THEY GROW UP pierce-street-45-downtown“Fine with these updates, provided the Pierce [Elevated] still gets torn down. Express lanes might seem like a good idea, but they’ll most likely be hindered by limited ingress/egress and often shunpiked. I’d imagine they’ll also be pretty expensive owing to the proposed modifications to the design. It’s a good design if you’re trying to center transportation around private auto use, but at some point, that can’t be the primary design consideration anymore.” [TMR, commenting on What Happens When You Decide To Redo That Downtown Freeway Plan in Your Spare Time] Photo of Pierce Elevated: Russell Hancock

7 Comment

  • In a growing city such as ours, I support keeping the road capacity we already have and adding to it, not “merely” shifting the highway from one location to another, without adding capacity. So I support the idea of keeping the Pierce elevated, even as managed lanes.

  • Same here. The whole tear down concept just doesn’t add up for me considering how much is already invested and how little funding we actually have available for new roads that are still FREE to drive on.
    But then again I’m not really for any of these plans. I really do like the idea of saving the funding and letting the private market manage mass transportation for the suburban masses until our clogged arteries actually force folks to create enough density in-town to where the city can actually afford a mass transportation plan for the entire city, and not just the central business districts. That is decades away though and not very realistic.

  • All those $$$ spent a decade ago to re-pave and re-do the West Loop without adding any lanes didn’t do much to help the near West-side. It’s congested just about anytime there’s daylight out. That said, at some point, we just run out of space to pour more concrete to try to mitigate congestion.

  • @ TMR: The North Freeway & Downtown Loop project is very likely TXDoT’s last opportunity to make major changes to their ROW holdings and to improve regional and cross-town traffic flows. This is perhaps a 30 or 40-year project, but its legacy will outlive us all; the next time they will certainly be hemmed-in by development (which will be made possible as a result of that improved mobility).

    But also, we actually do not know what the future holds in terms of transportation. There is no reason that ribbons of concrete need to be used the way that we are using them right now. We can use them differently. They can carry pedestrians, draft animals and carts, bicycles, tractors, streetcars, cars, buses, delivery vans, big-rigs, motorcycles, taxis, military convoys, (all at the same time) and some stretches have even been designed to double as runways for jet aircraft in wartime! They can carry vehicles powered by a variety of engine types, using a variety of fuel types, and those fuels are carried on-board each vehicle which is a small but critical detail that allows those vehicles to go literally anywhere along any connected ribbon of concrete (or asphalt or gravel or dirt, et al.) into the hinterlands, into big industrial parks, into subdivisions with twisty-turny-cul-de-sac’ed streets, or anywhere else that isn’t remotely possible to serve with fixed-guideway transit. The improved, unobstructed, and (mostly) unrestricted open road is a tremendous human achievement. Its utility is unlikely to be diminished by advances in technology.

    If anything, I suspect that it will be complementary to new technology such as self-driving cars and ridesharing. This stuff is going to mitigate many of the externalities of road travel and bring down out-of-pocket costs too, but the result is going to be INDUCED DEMAND…the same as what happens when capacity gets expanded or people become wealthier or just that there are more people. That’s absolutely a good thing. Induced demand is how you know that a project was well-justified in the first place (ShadyHeightster), it validates the vitality of a city; but you still have to anticipate it and build a better system to accommodate it.

  • “Express lanes might seem like a good idea, but they’ll most likely be hindered by limited ingress/egress and often shunpiked”

    Express Lanes, by definition have limited entrances and exits. These lanes don’t get bogged down by drivers merging and diverging. This is just the opposite of what you mentioned of being “hindered”. If your bypassing downtown, which I do twice a day, you would fly right through downtown. No egresses and ingresses to hinder the flow. No left hand exits or on ramps.

    If the Express Lanes are flowing, no one passing through downtown would “shunpike” or avoid these lanes.

  • “…to where the city can actually afford a mass transportation plan for the entire city, and not just the central business districts…”
    You mean, kind of like a distributed grid-based bus system? Too bad we don’t have one of those…

  • Why yes, of course, a grid based system would be amazing. The idea of being able to take a bus up shepherd and transfer to a bus going down I-10 would be mind bendingly efficient and probably only add another 10mins to my commute.
    However, living in the montrose with 3 separate bus routes within a couple blocks of my place, my 12mi / 20min drive to work would take 1h 35m by bus and naturally, involve a 35min walk down the scenic I-10 feeder road. Same thing if I wanted to go north on 45 with mass transit, 1h 35m to get to BW8. May god only help you if you need to go east to the port/ship channel or south.
    These are all some of the largest business districts in the city, completely inaccessible by mass transit since they’re not inside the 610 loop.