The Odds on a Pierce Elevated Comedown

THE ODDS ON A PIERCE ELEVATED COMEDOWN Map of Proposed I-45 Rerouting, Downtown HoustonWriting in the latest issue of Texas Architect magazine — which is now debuting a redone website with a new web address and a new all-articles-are-now free policy — Ben Koush surveys the prospects for the raised section of I-45 now dividing Midtown from Downtown: “While there have been some plans floated around to convert the decommissioned section of the Pierce Elevated into Houston’s version of the Highline, most people I spoke with didn’t think that was going to happen, simply because TxDOT needs the money it could get from selling that right of way to private developers. Some still hold out hope that at least some of the land or maybe even a small section of the elevated roadway could be made into a public green space.” [Texas Architect; previously on SwamplotPlan of “currently approved scheme” for I-45 rerouting around downtown, showing possible green space: SWA Group

15 Comment

  • If the elevated would no longer serve to move I-45 traffic, it’s better to come down. If some of the blocks would be reserved for open space it would be a great benefit. Having a part on top of a structure that creates a dark under space would be a waste. Unless that space is for parking.

    Also, an elevated park would not benefit the street lift which is the real benefit of parks in downtown.

  • As a 16 year resident of the Pierce elevated I demand reparations!

  • In the spirit of compromise I suggest taking down either the east bound or west bound side but allow one side to remain, providing a park, access for pedestrians and non motorized transport and enhancing the surrounding property for developers, just as the hi-line has done in Manhattan.

  • i have a great idea for the Pierce Elevated, how about we use it as I-45 through downtown?

    Why these a-holes at TxDOT are shoving this unwanted project in our faces is beyond me. Why is this being done? Because they mayor wants midtown to connect with downtown better? I really dont get it. All the public meetings opposing this project were a waste of time. Why hold the meetings and take comments if they’re not actually going to listen to the people.

  • The increasing talk about this is scaring me away from even thinking about buying in-town in the next 2 yrs. Not that it isn’t already almost solid traffic heading eastbound into town at night, but this would just be a nightmare and bring memorial to a standstill along with it. Almost makes you glad these guys are going to be hurting for cash in a couple years.

  • After living at 2016 Main St for over a year I became very familiar with the street traffic surrounding the Pierce Elevated. The south side of downtown needs some green space so hopefully part of this could become a park. And I’d love for the Greyhound Station to move too but we’ll see about that….

  • While I can agree with I love Heights Walmart’s opening line, I’d ask my esteemed colleague to calm down. I doubt that the Pierce Elevated will be decommissioned in the next 10 years.
    I’m banking on TxDOT to continue their exceptional record of being as slow as molasses. And, the City, state, and county to also not break their world records in dithering (hello, Astrodome!). An added benefit: these government entities will still have to find ways to pay for whatever they come up with so add another 10 years to any change.

  • There still are not enough through lanes to get you through downtown, on any freeway (as demonstrated a while back in another Swamplot post – the one where the guy actually counted how many lanes enter and exit downtown). Removing the Pierce Elevated would be a disaster for mobility in Houston, at least, until we have a public transportation network that actually works.

  • of course they need to sell the land, they have to buy 19 whole blocks in the east end, and further decimate the already poor connectivity from the east end into the downtown area. that all takes money.

  • Aside from the terrible effects on mobility this project will have, the fiscal cost are astounding. 7 billion dollars for the whole freeway reconstruction and more than half of those dollars (4 billion of them) are just going into this project downtown which will actually decrease mobility. That’s more money that than the 25 mile long Katy Freeway cost to build (2.7 billion) or the 35 mile long 290 expansion (2.4 billion). Imagine if we put this 4 billion dollars into things that actually improved mobility, like public transit, bike & ped improvements, street reconstruction, or just plain smarter highway expansions. But no, TxDOT has to cater to the wishes of a few developers who want the Pierce’s land and are willing to screw the public over and waste the taxpayer’s dollar in order to help out their friends. Talk about a boondoggle! Some sort of organized resistance needs to be created to stop corrupt TxDOT.

  • JoeV for Comment of the Day!

  • There are almost no other state entities in the nation that have the money, the power, and the lack of any accountability as TXDOT. They need to be taken down.

  • contrary to soem comments here, the reason for decommisioning the pierce elevated is to increase mobility, not reduce it and increase traffic. houstpn highway systems were originally designed, in 60’s or so, to funnel traffic to downtown — teh premise being that traffic was going to downtown, Today, great majority of that traffic is not looking to exit downtown but to continue past downtown. hence, pierce elevated is not needed. And, it’s not efficient — bottleneck 16 hrs a day. rerouting traffic around downtown– including enlarging that route on I-45 and I-59, which is already being done is common sense and also, if you look at a map, does not increase the length of the rout all that much. so, all these posters\experts criticizing DOT planners are morons.
    Also, you think DOT and our highway systems are stupid? you obviously have not been outside of the US. infrastructure construction is actually sign of progress, and land and money that make it possible (not to mention the positive impact on commerce, jobs, and disposable income (spending)). spend a lot of time overseas, one of the things foreigners marvel at is the efficiency and ease of travel on US roads (and political system\players being accountable to plurality, imiagine that)

  • @ aa: Infrastructure ought to be a much higher priority than it is, I agree with you on that, but that fact shouldn’t exempt the entities responsible for planning, building, and maintaining it from public scrutiny or reform. Now I’ve known TXDoT engineers that were certifiably disgruntled, and the ones that can’t hack the politics of it and that get hung up on issues like efficiency and cost — those folks end up in the private sector. Texas needs TXDoT, but no agency should be without public accountability or presumed infallible.

  • Forget Central Park, Grant Park, etc… Houston would have a Green Halo around it’s center. What an amazing opportunity to create beautiful green space that serves for flood control as well.