There’s so much to talk about and gawk at in the latest “proposed recommended alternatives” for reshaping I-45 now being shopped around by TxDOT and a host of freeway-happy consultants — enough for a fourth round of public meetings scheduled for tonight and next week, plus hours of extra-curricular speculation. The plans encompass dramatic changes to the North Freeway all the way from Beltway 8 to a new split adjacent to the Third Ward, including eye-opening widenings, all sorts of exciting tunnels and high-flying overpasses, a slew of spaghetti-like interchanges, and — the pièce de résistance — the wholesale give-up of I-45’s current L-shaped wrap around Downtown, including the Pierce Elevated.
These 5 images from our highway overlords’ exciting imagined future sum it up best:
1. The X-ing-out of the Pierce Elevated (diagrammed above). If the elevated portion of I-45 along the path of Pierce St. goes away, how will anyone be able to tell where Downtown ends and Midtown begins? Don’t worry, a few proposals are being shopped around to turn a de-automobiled structure into a High Line—like public park or bikeway. (Though much bigger, ′cuz Houston.)
2. The New I-10-meets-I-45 Freeway Bundle. See, they’ll just reroute I-45 north of Downtown, where it’ll get all cozy with I-10, already in progress. Need help figuring out which patch of concrete is yours in the first image? Just refer to the handy color-coded guide above.
3. 28 Lanes of Freeway Bliss. And here it is, just your basic 28-lane highway, along the stretch of I-10 north of Downtown. Not counting any feeder-road additions, of course.
4. The New 10-45-59-69 Tangle. Whoah — that’s some World Class concrete spaghettini in there. Just follow the turn-by-turn instructions carefully and you’ll get where you want to go.
5. The Freeway Greenway You Can’t Easily Get To. Putting 12 lanes of the North Fwy. underground between Quitman and Cavalcade would free up a bunch of space for park-like greenery! Lining it with high-speed feeder roads on either side would help keep out undesirables.
- 4th Public Meeting Documents [North Houston Highway Improvement Project]
- TXDOT Releases Plans On Major Redesign Of I-45 In Downtown Houston [Houston Public Media]
- Massive I-45 project would remove Pierce Elevated, add lanes [Houston Chronicle]