Monday, December 14, 2015

610W express lane flaws, HSR terminal debate, maximizing opportunity circles, TX drains CA, and more

Apologies for not posting last week - the whole world seems to want to pack a month's worth of meetings and work into the first 2.5 weeks of December.  On to the big backlog of items:
  • I attended TXDoT's public information meeting on the proposed 610W elevated express lanes (details), and as supportive of the idea as I am, I'm concerned about the details of this plan.  It would allow express elevated travel along four lanes from just north of I10 to just south of 59, but the problem is that they can only find space for single lane entrances and exits, which essentially cuts the throughput in half.  Hopefully someone can come up with some potential alternatives - let's hope so or I have trouble seeing good cost-benefit here.
  • Speaking of traffic, here's the simple, universal solution: congestion pricing.  And it actually doubles throughput!
"As the paper shows, a freeway lane can typically move up to 2,000 vehicles per hour, but when traffic slows due to congestion, this can fall below 1,000 vehicles per hour. The net result is that road pricing can paradoxically double road capacities, thus giving everyone more options to get where they want to go, not less."
"From the perspective of a transit agency, an express toll lane provides it with an uncongested high-speed guideway at zero capital cost (other than the cost of the buses). And a seamless network of ETLs, as planned in most of these metro areas, provides transit with the infrastructure for region-wide express bus service—again, without the massive infrastructure cost that a rail system of comparable geographic extent would entail—if it could somehow find the umpteen billions of dollars to build such a rail network."
"Much of today's urban transportation planning focuses on transit and "smart growth." According to this set of ideas, suburbanization (aka "sprawl") is bad and should be discouraged, while higher density is good and should be increased, so that "we can get people out of their cars" and do other good things like enabling lots more people to walk or bike to work. But what if this set of policies turned out to be a recipe for urban decline?
If their analysis is correct (and I think it is), much of current transportation and land use thinking is mistaken.
The main implication of this research is that "the more integrated metropolitan labor markets are, the more productive they are." And therefore transportation policies should promote:
- Speedier rather than slower commuting;
- More rather than less commuting; and,
- Longer rather than shorter commutes. 
These policies expand the "opportunity circles" of both employees and job-seekers. But they are the opposite of what those who are promoting "jobs-housing balance" try to achieve: to get people to work closer to where they live, accepting a convenient job rather than the best (most economically productive) job.
In order not to undercut metro area economic productivity, transportation and land-use policies should enable people and companies to maximize the size of their opportunity circles, by facilitating faster, longer-distance commuting. 
Everyone concerned with transportation and land-use policies should read these important papers."
Finally, a thought I had this week on the debate about terminating Texas high-speed rail at 290 and I10 vs. bringing it all the way into downtown: if you look at the most likely sources and destinations for HSR business riders, it's likely to be a zone from downtown out west through Uptown to Westchase and the Energy Corridor. The easiest and most central arrival and departure point is 290/10 at 610, not downtown. Forcing everybody to go downtown may actually suppress HSR ridership, especially for those going to/from the west side.

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At 1:25 PM, December 17, 2015, Blogger Michael_L said...

Regarding Companies moving from CA to TX, the article mentioned Rick Perry being an aggressive recruiter, but I think I heard once that TX governors have been that way since Gov. Ann Richards, regardless of party. Recruiting companies to Texas has been a bi-partisan activity for over 25 years.


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