Preliminary 2035 HGAC Regional Transportation PlanLast week I was able to attend a Livable Houston presentation by Kari Hackett of the Houston-Galveston Area Council on the preliminary 2035 Regional Transportation Plan, a process they go through every 5 years. I thought I'd cover a few highlights that jumped out at me.
They are planning four major strategies to deal with our tremendous growth:
- Build more roadway and transit
- Reduce peak demand
- Manage what we have
- Livable centers (people live close enough to walk/bike/transit to work)
- Fully completed Grand Parkway loop
- Managed Lanes on most major spoke freeways except on the east side (separately, the Metro map does show managed lanes on east I10)
- Completion of Beltway 8 (northeast sector)
- 249 as a toll road outside the Grand Parkway well up into Mongomery County (I hear the western part of The Woodlands really needs it)
- Ft. Bend Tollway connected into the southwest corner of the 610 Loop
- Extension of Spur 5 by UH/I45S all the way out to Pearland as a tollway
- Fairmont-Red Bluff freeway connecting Beltway 8 in Pasadena to Seabrook (a personal favorite of mine as an alternate to ever-congested 45S)
Metro also added some interesting new things to their map:
- Guided Rapid Transit (GRT, probably BRT) along 3 new lines:
- Along Bellaire (their busiest bus route) from Highway 6 all the way to what looks like the east end of the eastside BRT in the Ship Channel area
- Along what looks like the 288 median from Brazoria into downtown. Not sure how that jives with the toll road plan down the middle (which is also on the map). The plans I saw way back said any rail that direction would be in the Almeda corridor, but that's not what this map shows.
- West along I10 from downtown to Katy. Again, not sure about where the RoW is coming from here. They also still show the managed lanes along this corridor, so it's not coming out of them.
- Commuter rail to Clear Lake (and possibly beyond), Pearland (a surprising new one), and along 290 - as well as along 90a in SugarLand, but, get this, instead of coming in to the south end of the Main St. LRT, it turns up the freight tracks parallel and just inside the West Loop, connecting into the 290 line before arriving at the intermodal center north of downtown. I think this is the theory: commuters from Ft. Bend will transfer to the Bellaire GRT to get to the med center, they will have reasonably easy transfers to Greenway and Uptown, and then they come into the the downtown intermodal - so they'll effectively serve 4 job centers instead of just the med center, as connecting to the south end of the LRT would do (30 mins is too long a connecting slog to downtown along the entire length of the Main St. line). It makes a lot of sense. In fact, all the proposed commuter lines seem to have better connections into the 4 major job centers in the core. A definite improvement, although overall expected cost-effectiveness vs. express buses remains to be seen.
- Port container cargo expected to grow 11% per year, which is a heck of a lot of growth (along with the truck and train traffic to support it)
- More protection of wetlands and flood plains
- Trying to get more regional transit options beyond the Metro service area and into adjacent counties
- An "Envision Houston" scenario with more concentrated density in the urban core around mixed-use, pedestrian "Livable Centers" that is forecast to increase transit use about 20% and reduce vehicle miles-travelled by 6%.