Sunday, January 13, 2013

Better 288 plan, top rankings, NASA JSC Gangnam Style, and more

We've got a big backlog of smaller misc items to kick off the new year with...
  • HGAC Mobility Now episode on the 288 corridor.  I was excited to hear about the two reversible HOT lanes being planned in the median, but disappointed to hear that the long-term plan is four lanes with two lanes each direction, the same as the Katy Freeway.  Bi-directional lanes make total sense along the Katy because there are many jobs on the west side in the Energy Corridor and Westchase, so the traffic demand goes both directions during each rush hour.  288, on the other hand, like 290, is very uni-directional: inbound in the mornings and outbound in the evenings.  There just aren't that many jobs in Brazoria County pulling people south in the morning and sending them back north in the evening (and the free lanes provide plenty of capacity for those people), so those toll lanes will just sit empty during those times.  What a waste of potential capacity.  Why not make it like 290, with 3-4 uni-directional reversible lanes?
  • Love this quote!  Integral to the Houston philosophy.
In a NYT profile, West describes what makes a city more resilient than a corporation, “Think about how powerless a mayor is. They can’t tell people where to live or what to do or who to talk to. Cities can’t be managed, and that’s what keeps them so vibrant. They’re just these insane masses of people, bumping into each other and maybe sharing an idea or two. It’s the freedom of the city that keeps it alive.”
That's probably enough for this week.  And if you haven't already caught it, this NASA JSC parody of the Gangnam Style video is really well done and has gone viral.  They put some real effort into it.  I actually added it to my backlog of misc items for the blog before it went viral, but it took me a while to get it posted.  My bad.

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At 5:38 PM, January 14, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said... all the way to 10:30.

Isn't this what you wanted, or did I not get far enough in the video?

I think by doing first a 2 lane reversible and then a 2x2 non-reversible makes sense. I imagine that there will eventually be more jobs south of TMC in the future, and a non-reversible would make sense at that point.

But more importantly, there is an ton of inbound congestion in the afternoon on 288. Much of this is people trying to get downtown or midtown in the afternoon as an alternative to 59, or just because they work in TMC and live in the 77002/3/4 area, or because they want to catch a Rockets or Astros or Dynamos game.

At 6:33 PM, January 14, 2013, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I like that the first phase is reversible. I don't like that the 2nd phase is not. I think the non-rush hour direction will be grossly underutilized. I don't see any indication that there will ever be enough jobs in Brazoria to justify more than the free lanes already provide. As far as northbound in the afternoons, remember that these lanes are really for the TMC, and are going to hit the same bottlenecks at the 59 intersection as already exist. The open 288 median they're going to fill doesn't exist that far north. They won't really help anybody get downtown.

Overall, I think the RoW would be better utilized with 3-4 reversible lanes than 2x2 non-reversible.

At 10:25 PM, January 14, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, keep in mind that there is space for 3 lanes on each side if really needed. I don't have my measuring stick with me right now, but I believe it's generally 120 feet ROW in the middle or more. That was the original plan going back to the 1970s.

288 southbound doesn't back up until you get close to the Loop in the afternoon. With 2 express lanes, I would think that that would be enough to improve flow through that area. I don't think 8 lanes flowing southbound will be especially useful. I also don't think that only 4 lanes northbound near downtown during the afternoon rush is sufficient.

Of course, if you've attended the public meetings, you'll probably conclude that what they intend to do with the express lanes when the lanes reach downtown get downtown is the great unknown (via Chenevert? via doubledecked 59? via tunnel? just plain end them at downtown?) I would expect that there'd be some facility to get at least to 2 SB and 2 NB lanes into Downtown or Midtown, but we can only speculate. I believe that they are purposely keeping it vague.

BTW, did you ever get a response from your contact in HCTRA to see if they've considered phasing out the cash lanes on BW 8? I'm very curious. Thanks.

At 8:01 AM, January 15, 2013, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I might agree with you that more than 4 lanes northbound in the afternoons would be helpful if there were anyway to get them through the downtown bottleneck. The problem now is not that there are only 4 lanes northbound, but that they run smack into that tangle of insufficient capacity downtown. This won't fix that. The best I think that can be hoped for is what you described - some new exit ramps into Midtown.

Don't know the HCTRA plans (my contact is no longer there). I suspect they'll just keep making it more and more painful to use the cash lanes, with fewer of those lanes, longer lines, and higher prices.


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