TXDoT responds to Mayor Turner's call to rethink urban transportation and freewaysResponding to Mayor Turner's call to rethink their approach to urban transportation, combined with support for the demolition of the Pierce Elevated downtown and criticism of the Katy Freeway expansion (despite moving more than twice as many people as before), TXDoT released a new transportation vision and plan for Houston today. Embracing the widespread praise for freeway removal as well as the much easier budget affordability of demolition than expansion, TXDoT announced their plan to revert to this 1973 map of Houston below, including removal of 290, 249, 288, most of Beltway 8, the Hardy, Westpark, the Grand Parkway, and the 610 Ship Channel Bridge. In addition, 45, 10, 59, and 610 will all be returned to their tidy 1973 sizes of 4 or 6 lanes.
"The light bulb moment for us was when we asked, 'If freeway expansions are bad, then what's good?' - and the answer was immediately obvious: removals must be good. The logic is irrefutable," said TXDoT Houston District Engineer Quincy Allen.
Even though demolition is expected to take many years, TXDoT announced equivalent lane closures effective immediately so citizens could begin getting used to the new transportation paradigm. They expect people will have little trouble adapting to the new urban form, simply riding transit, biking, or moving closer to their employers. "We really expect very little disruption," said Allen, "in fact we expect Houston over time to become a Utopian paradise of dense walkability similar to Mexico City or Bangkok."
TXDoT further announced that if this plan is as wildly popular as they expect, they will begin work on a phase two to remove the remaining freeways and revert to the pre-WW2 freewayless map, but that funding for the additional demolition may require a voter-approved bond issue. "That's the Holy Grail goal for us - heck, at that point we can shut down the department and all retire on our nice state pensions - but we're going to have to ask the public to be patient. These freeways weren't built in a day, and it will take time - and funding - to remove them," said Allen.
Labels: mobility strategies