Comment of the Day: That’s Why They Call Them Feeder Roads

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THAT’S WHY THEY CALL THEM FEEDER ROADS “Just think how much value they’re adding to the land that will front the service roads. Stores! Restaurants! Strip centers! It’s a developer’s dream. And isn’t that what it’s all about?” [KC, commenting on Setting Sail Again: Studemont Billboard Flagship]

20 Comment

  • What’s wrong with increasing the land value and economic development?

  • I thought that stretch wasn’t able to be developed because White Oak Bayou goes right up to the feeder road. I could be wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time.

  • I didn’t realize there was a plan to extend the feeder from Studemont to Sawyer.

  • I didn’t realize there was a plan to extend the feeder from Studemont to Taylor.

  • Only on the south side of I-10 at that point.

    They will also connect the feeder roads at Yale to Paterson along with some ramp reconfigurations.

  • This particular project will no doubt improve the increasingly congested traffic flow in the area and help Target make more money.

    On another note, I would like to find out precisely who was responsible for making the philosophical decision to attach feeder roads to freeways in Texas in the first place, way back in the 50’s. Feeder Roads turned out to be an aesthetic disaster, helped kill off many local business districts, and led to the proliferation of countless mediocre restaurant chains.

    Epic fail.

    Oh, I suppose there weren’t any planners involved in that original decision…

  • Development along frontage roads has done so much to destroy traditional Main Street in so many small towns in Texas, it’s sickening. This state has so few real gems left. TXDOT should be ashamed.

  • I commpletely agree. It is a shame that Texas is currently the economic model for the rest of the “pretty” country…

  • completely

  • I don’t think the feeders are going to help the congestion at all. All the traffic at Taylor will still be there with the addition of the traffic on the new feeder from Studemont. They are not adding a new entrance ramp before Taylor. The traffic will only get worse. They are using traffic studies for the area that are from before the Target was constructed. I don’t see anything positive coming from this project. I’ve lived in the Heights for years and could care less that there is no feeder.

  • How do you know the traffic study didn’t include the Target development? Just because it was built several years after the original traffic study they didn’t consider it?

    Have you ever conducted a traffic study and a 20-year projection analysis? In the analysis you have to consider development patterns an possible redevelopment based upon what the project may encourage. Much of the land becoming heavy retail commercial development is logical projection that must be included. The Heights was already seen a lot of redevelopment by the time this study was on going and projects of massive redevelopment of the Washington corridor were expected based prior analysis by HGAC.

    The current exit ramp configuration at Taylor will stay the same but the east bound exit to Taylor will be pulled back to safety requirements for design roadway grades.

    I’ve attended all the public meetings for this project and have talked to the TxDOT engineers and the private design firm engineers at the meetings.

    The reality is no matter what TxDOT does, they will be seen as some evil villain by some. Irate and emotional citizens that refuse to calm down and actually listen and have pre-determined views on TxDOT projects don’t help.

  • What an annoying spate of comments! News flash – FREEWAYS killed off Main Street in every little town they bypassed. This is true across the US. The only difference the Feeders make is the *shape* that development takes.

    In Texas, chain restaurants and big box retail are laid out linearly along the highway, so you can pull in, pull out, make your U-turn and be on your way. Everywhere else in the US, the same chain restaurants and big boxes are clumped together, in giant agglomerations of commercialness that require you to wade through 5 or 6 traffic lights to get to/from the freeway.

    Both are autocentric, neither are particularly pedestrian-friendly, but Texas saves you minutes each trip, hours each years, entire weeks of your life given back not having to wait at those goddamn lights.

  • That must be going back a bit if you have attended all of the public meeting kjb considering that TXDOT haven’t bothered to hold one since 2003. Similarly it is hard to know what is included in the traffic studies if TXDOT can’t be bothered to hold a meeting to inform the public. How arrogant an agency do they have to be to contract this job out without having updated any of the traffic or flood studies for 10 years and without having presented any information to the public for 7 years?

    They did manange to hold one public meeting to address the detention ponds this year. Given that the flooding in Allison was the original driver behind this project you would think these would be a priority. But in fact the flood mitigation measures are not funded and will not being built until some unknown time in the future. Until then we will be getting a frontage road system that decreases the risk of I-10 flooding by channeling the overflow from White Oak Bayou into a residential neighborhood. Thanks TXDOT.

    In terms of increasing land value the GAO report in 2005 showed pretty conclusively that any new development along feeders is at the expense of these businesses moving from other locations and so the net effect is to depress existing commercial areas. The new development is inevitably geared more towards vehicular traffic which in turn leads to an increase in congestion on the freeway the feeders serve as well as an increase in the accident rate. This was the conclusion of the Texas Transportation Commission in 2001 and was TXDOT policy until it was overturned after pressure from Austin driven by developers.

    At the end of the day TXDOT got burned on Grand Parkway and is trying to keep ahold of that federal money by quickly funneling it into an out of date, poorly planned and barely needed project. They have done nothing to show that they have any interest in the opinions of us, their clients. Instead they have decided to tell us what we need, whether we like it or not. The only winner is Balfour Beattie.

  • All of the TXDOT policy against feeders from from the early ’00s was basically foreplay for the Trans-Texas Corridor. Toll Roads make more money if there isn’t a free feeder road right next door, so Rick Perry’s lackeys had to trash the feeders before they could build toll-roads without them, like SH 130.

    Don’t believe everything you read.

  • KHH is right about the position against feeder roads. The study was skewed to support the toll road concept.

    Most of the Texas freeway system (specifically rural ones) follow existing highway alignments because it’s much cheaper to build and for state the size of Texas that was critical early on in its highway building history. Utilizing old alignments was a big driver behind the concept of feeder roads because of existing property owners fronted the old roads and access must be provided.

    A study saying “feeder roads are bad” would completely change TxDOT’s concept of building freeways (especially toll roads) since they would absolutely need brand new alignments. With a brand new alignment, access points would only be needed at interchanges eliminating the need for feeder roads. Another dilemma in their push for toll roads is that existing roadways could not be turned into a toll road unless parallel feeders are provided to maintain the existing condition of the un-tolled roadway. US 183 and SH 121 are two big toll roads in Austin and DFW that had to build extensive feeder roads because of the conversion to toll roads.

    I’ve read the study supporting “feeder roads are bad” position and it has been batted down heavily by transportation engineers in Texas and other states that are interested in the feeder road concept. Several states have installed (very limited) feeder roads in areas to improve traffic.

    The heavy opposition to the Trans Texas Corridor has pretty much relegated that study to the trash. The only people who bring it back up or usually neighborhood activist types trying to stop or hinder projects like this.

    Also regarding the Grand Parkway, please don’t believe all the rumors with that project. The project can still quite easily move forward without any funding from TxDOT. TxDOT wanted to keep it’s hand in the project since it can now build toll roads and can get a share of the revenue with HCTRA operating. If TxDOT wants the project to move forward now and go to construction quickly, they can hand it over to HCTRA to run with it which they have done.

    The design is finishing up right now an the Army Corps wetland permits are being wrapped up. I had to work on a relatively small piece of this segment. It was broken out to several engineering firms with one primary firm guiding the project. With HCTRA being the primary driver now for the parkway, the news about it is pretty much going to be coming down to a trickle, but I haven’t revealed anything that can’t be reach by anybody interested in looking for it.

  • Ok, so I can certainly accept that there will be two sides to the feeder roads are bad report. However, neither traffic or development issues were the driver for this project. TXDOT’s original argument for this project was that they needed to reduce the risk of I-10 flooding. The currently funded and contracted project includes none of the flood control measures and actually puts several sections of feeder below the base flood elevation. Both of these issues will increase the risk of flooding in the residential areas adjacent to the bayou. All TXDOT will say is that they are still discussing the flood control issues with HCFCD. At the end of the day they have parceled out the road construction as they can argue that it is shovel ready. But is it really acceptable in our area to build first and then say you’ll worry about flooding at some undefined point in the future? I struggle to believe that that is a sound engineering principle.

    Also, remember that TXDOT hasn’t solicited neighborhood feedback for more than six years. Do you not think they could at least have paid lip service to giving a crap what the current residents think of their plan. If not I would be interested to know how long in the past a project had to have been reviewed before you feel a new period of comment is warranted.

  • Jimbo,

    The scope of the project is large enough that the components that deal directly with flooding (removal of the depressed portion from the floodplain) can be held off and completed later.

    The pump station that will be installed can be bypassed so the depressed portion is still hydraulically linked to White Oak Bayou which means the detention facilities will not be needed immediately. The entire project can be completed, and then a couple of years after, they can come in and build the detention and bring the pump station online sealing off White Oak Bayou from the depressed section.

    This is not an unusual sequencing. It was utilized on the Katy Freeway at the Beltway interchange which were under different contracts that had different timing schedules.

  • Why pay lip service? It’s not like public meetings are actually representative of what the public wants anyway, since they tend to disproportionately attract the worst of the worst NIMBY/HOA types.

    Besides, as I posed over in the other thread, the biggest neighborhood impact isn’t in the Heights at all – it’s in the Montrose, where the Yale-Paterson connector will siphon Med Center commuters off Montrose and onto Waugh. If there was a public meeting anywhere, it should’ve been hosted at the Lovett Inn.

  • True, but saying you shouldn’t solicit public comment because the meetings attract people whose opinions you don’t agree with is a bit like saying you should have elections because the people who are more likely to vote are people whose opinions you don’t like. At the end of the day our government bodies are supposed to do what we want them to do.

    I’m still sticking to my opinion that there is really no need to be building these feeder extensions. If the project driver is flood mitigation then build the pumping stations and the detention ponds. The main reason the feeders are in there is because our mindset is that all freeways in Texas should have through feeders. I would suggest that in this case they are just not warranted and that the decision to build or not build feeders should be decided on the merits of each individual case.

  • I think public comment is just great; I just think meetings that require you to drive/bike/bus to a location, sit for an hour, then wait in line to speak for 3 minutes are one of the most inefficient means of going about anything.

    I’d support a website where people can submit comments; I think that’d be productive. But I don’t honestly believe any kind of formalized comment periods is neccessary for the construction of a couple little feeder roads that will only take right-of-way from a single light industrial facility.

    But then part of that is my disdain for homeowners who feel entitled to state that their neighborhood “doesn’t need” a new HEB, or “doesn’t need” a feeder road extension, or “wouldn’t benefit” from having some mixed-use commercial at the bottom of a high-rise. I get it, once people start paying a mortgage they want the neighborhood to neeever change and alwways stay the same. They’re annoying, and I’m glad TXDOT has the ability to pour a few cubic yards of concrete without beseeching their opinion.

    If anything, I wish that the process for the approval of transit lines was more like TXDOT’s highway projects; i.e., less incessant studies and comment periods. If we had a high speed rail agency and gave them the same power TXDOT has, we’d be chilling out on 200mph trains in a few years’ time.