Stop 59S changes that favor commuters over inner loopers, how land regs hurt the poor, TX education better than you think, and moreBefore getting to this week's items, I want to announce that I will be in the interview hot-seat at Startup Grind this Wednesday evening discussing education innovation. You can get tickets here -hope to see some of you there!
- The Chronicle's transportation reporter, Dug Begley, gave me some good quotes in this story about the road bonds passing: Road spending popular, but effects can be fleeting
- How land use regulations hurt the poor, including the "zoning tax"
- The new GHP November report is out, and it details how affordable Houston still is compared to other major metros, even with the run-up in home prices the last few years.
- Comparing Houston and Dallas' very different light rail systems. Excerpt:
"The differences in the systems are stark. DART’s rail system spans 90 miles, with 62 stations in 13 cities. METRO’s light rail is just 23 miles long with 44 stations, all of which are located in central Houston.
But their ridership numbers are similar. DART Rail moves an average of 96,000 people on weekdays and 57,000 on Saturday. METRO light rail, meanwhile, gets 63,000 riders around town on weekdays, and 31,000 on Saturdays.
That makes for a more efficient system in Houston, with 2,700 passengers per mile on weekdays, compared to around 1,000 in Dallas."
- Houston ranks #2 on the best cities for engineering jobs, behind Atlanta (oddly).
- New analysis adjusting for demographics shows Texas the #3 state in the nation for math and reading education, and blowing #46 California out of the water with similar demographics.
The objective of the study is to identify relatively low-cost measures to reduce congestion. Oscar Slotboom of HoustonFreeways.com has analyzed the recommendations in detail and found them pretty severely problematic.
Oscar has concerns about many of the recommendations, including negative impacts, high costs and reduced freeway access to local inner-loop traffic. He's hoping HGAC and TxDOT will take a closer look at the proposal, possibly scrapping several features and further refining other items to reduce negative impacts. A sample of some of the issues:
- Removal of the San Jacinto entrance ramp will eliminate freeway access for a large area, including Midtown, the Museum District, the Richmond corridor and traffic coming from the Medical Center on San Jacinto.
- Proposed changes in the outbound direction from Kirby to Weslayan have the potential to cause huge congestion problems on the frontage road between Buffalo Speedway and Weslayan
- Proposed changes in the inbound direction will add congestion at the Buffalo Speedway intersection.
- The plan proposes conversion to a two-way HOV costing $240 million, but there is no need for a two-way HOV outside the loop. At Loop 610 and inbound toward Edloe, a two-way HOV will be complex and expensive, so any two-way HOV should be limited to the section between Buffalo Speedway and approximately Mandell.
- In general, changes inside the loop increase congestion on the frontage roads to achieve improvement on the main lanes.
- Changes to entrance and exit ramps are intended to aid rush-hour traffic, but the inconvenience imposed on local traffic occurs at all times - non-peak periods, weekends and nights.
- The active traffic management will add a very large number of signs along the corridor and cost $72 million. The benefit/cost ratio of 7.6 seems overly optimistic.
- If relocation of the HOV to the Metro right-of-way along Westpark has not been considered, this should be looked at since it would offer many benefits and potentially cost less than the $240 million price tag for the HOV changes in the proposal.