Friday, November 9, 2012

Keeping An Eye on I-45: Make your comments now!

The I45 Coaltion sent out their recommendations on Wednesday. I'm sorry to just be posting now with the deadline at midnight tonight. Hopefully you can easily cut&paste from their email below and send off comments. It's important enough to take the time. This could have a major impact on our neighborhood. I have added some notes in red at each section so you know a little more about what these options mean. Basically, we are not making a final decision but narrowing the field of options down even further so that some real projections and feasibility work can get done. Let's keep our best options on the table and have a voice with TxDot!

i45logo.jpgThe deadline approaches - Please send your comments to TxDOT by midnight tomorrow, Nov. 9th - better yet .. do it now!

Dear Neighbors -
In about 24 hours – midnight Friday, November 9th – your opportunity to give TxDOT your opinion of what to do on I-45 ends!  Please make your comments before then … better yet – do it NOW! 

TxDOT WILL be doing something on I-45 and it is in your best interest to let them know what you like or don’t like … or TxDOT will do what TxDOT likes!
TxDOT will determine what the 3 best alternatives are for each segment from your comments.  (We have also updated an additional alternative on Segment 1)  Then at the next public meeting (probably in 6 to 9 months), we will select the 1 best alternative in each segment…. So this is the time to be sure to get your opinion heard – we will have dramatically less choice next time!
You can go to this link for complete maps of each segment and summary of alternatives at I-45 Coalition opposes the expansion in general but we have selected alternatives that are preferred for the least impact to our neighborhoods and businesses.
To leave your comments, please go to TxDOT’s site:
Feel free to “cut & paste’ from the following comments if you agree – if you don’t agree, please make you own comments – but it is vital you let TxDOT know what you want!
Suggested comments:
I think that spending over $2 BILLION of taxpayer’s money (in 2004 dollars) to get an improvement of only 3 MPH in general traffic lanes is a HUGE waste of money. In addition, TxDOT is using traffic data that is over 12 years old (from 2000) that probably does not reflect the current traffic situation we are facing today. I am against spending ANY money until TxDOT updates their traffic studies and determines cost-effective solutions to today’s congestion. However, if TxDOT proceeds, the following alternatives are the best that have been proposed to minimize additional right-of-way (ROW) and protect neighborhoods and businesses.

Segment 1: I-45 from Beltway to Loop 610

I AM IN FAVOR of Alternatives 3 & 3c; 7 & 8.  With Alternatives 7 & 8, TxDOT must provide noise abatement on all elevated structures to reduce increased noise levels.
I AM OPPOSED to Alternatives 4, 5 & 6 because they require an additional 150’ of ROW which would destroy or devastate existing businesses and/or homes.   

UPDATE – Alternative 7 requires 30’ of additional ROW and Alternative 8 requires 25’ of new ROW on each side of I-45. Several property owners on the East Side of I-45 have stated their strong preference for Alternative 4 which requires 150’ of ROW from the West side. They have pointed out that there is a large amount of vacant property on the West side and much of that property floods.  They are firmly in support of Alt 3 & 3c and Alternative 4 but do not support Alternative 7 or Alternative 8.

[Heights Life's notes: 3 & 3c will make that stretch of 45 outside of the loop look much like the Katy Freeway, with one additional lane on the Hardy toll road. Options 7 & 8  have elevated managed lanes. Managed lanes are HOV/Toll lanes, again like the Katy Freeway. My notes from the meeting indicate I was strongly in favor of the elevated lanes, but I certainly understand the needs of business owners in that stretch. My concern would be the merging of their 12 lanes in to our narrower stretch inside the loop would cause a bottle neck to the point that it changes our plans for the Heights area which include no additional Right Of Way (RoW)]

Segment 2: I-45 from Loop 610 to I-10

I AM IN FAVOR of Alternatives 15, 14 & 10.

I AM OPPOSED to Alternatives 3, 11 & 12

Heights Life notes: THIS IS THE SECTION THAT MOST PERTAINS TO THE HEIGHTS! As of this point, TxDot has promised no additional RoW between Cavalcade and I10. There will have to be major changes at the 610/45 exchange and we are looking at the possibility of a major spaghetti monster like the one at I10 and 610. 

Option 10 is to add managed lanes (all increased traffic flow for this segment is managed lanes) where the frontage road hangs out, cantilevered  over the highwayover the freeway. It gives us 4 managed lanes, plus 8 general purpose lanes. This is similar to how I75 in Dallas is built and it's actually quite an attractive stretch of road. Option 3 is similar but has reversable lanes, which might be why it's being rejcted. 

Options 11 and 12 are being rejected because they are elevated lanes that would be above grade and would add a considerable amount of noise and air pollution to the area.

Options 15 & 14 are TUNNELS, PEOPLE! This concept is very exciting and I wish you could have all taken part in the discussion about how it would work. The tunnels will most likely significantly reduce noise pollution, could even reduce air pollution because the air coming out of the tunnels is filtered, and would be for only thru-traffic, i.e. people who want to get from 610 to south of I10 without exiting the Heights or NNS, seriously reducing local traffic. I know tunnels are a strange concept to Houstonians but the same kind of tunnel is currently being built along the seawall in Seattle, so the elevation isn't a problem. When someone else brought up flooding issues, a commenter responded to not forget that Kuala Lampur has a huge tunnel system and they have not just the occasional hurricane, but an entire monsoon season! These tunnels look incredible and would have a wonderful impact on the neighborhood regarding highway traffic.

Segment 3: I-45 thru Downtown / Pierce Elevated / 59

I AM IN FAVOR of Alternative 4 (but TxDOT needs to add exit to I-45), Alt. 5 (TxDOT must move away from the Historic Neighborhoods &Alt. 6 (TxDOT needs to add exit to 59).

I AM OPPOSED to Alternatives 3, 7 & 10.
[Heights Life Notes: Options 4,5, and 6 are all different tunnel configurations. 7 is also a tunnel but with a split that would be a lot more work and a lot more money.

Options 3 and 10 are not even real options. 3 is converting I10, I 45, and I 59 in to some weird one way loop around downtown. Even the TxDot guys were basically like "Eh. Probably won't work." Option 10 is widening I 45 but really, how would they even do that? There is development on both sides that would cost the city A LOT of money to take to from landowners.

Because of the slim alternative options for downtown, it almost appears a tunnel is inevitable. Because of this, it makes even more sense to have the tunnels as a pass through for the Heights area section!

I can try to answer any questions you might have but, again, comments need to be at TxDot by midnight tonight. Please, send your letter!]

That’s all you need to say – please send your comments to before the deadline of midnight Friday, November 9th.

Thank you for staying involved! This is a critical time for this project!

Jim Weston

I-45 Coalition

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