Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Solving the Corps' reservoir dirt problem, HTX vs. NYC apts, HTX > Chicago, transit's expensive demise, Houston's hilarious "end of the universe", and more

Before jumping into this week's items, an idea:  The Army Corps of Engineers wants to dig out Addicks and Barker reservoirs deeper so they can hold more water, but they're not sure what to do with the dirt.  How about using it to elevate the new high-speed rail line to Dallas, which has to be grade-separated anyway?  Please pass along if you know anyone with the Corps or Texas Central.  Idea credit to Patrick.

Moving on to this week's items:
"Fares paid by riders cover only about a quarter of these costs.  That means taxpayers who do not ride transit are spending over $50 billion per year to subsidize those who do.  In 2017, trips on transit were less than 1% of the total daily trips taken by Americans.  That works out to the 99% of Americans that don't use transit paying about $160 per year for the 1% that do.  The value to the 1% who ride transit is about $14,000 per year."
But it is clear that we are in the midst of a technological revolution in transportation.  The most important thing is that we don't spend a lot of money on inflexible infrastructure.   I suspect that in the not too distant future, we are going to look back on our light rail experiment in Houston as the City's worst ever white elephant."
  • Houston has more people employed in city limits than Chicago! Hat tip and graphics credit to George.  Click to enlarge.

Finally, to end on a little humor: I've actually had this item ready to post for a long time, but read that Lewis Black was in town last weekend to do some stand-up (KUHF story link) which reminded me.  Here's his (locally) famous bit about the Starbucks across the street from a Starbucks in River Oaks being the "end of the universe".  It's hilarious, and he doesn't even mention the *third* Starbucks next door inside the Barnes and Noble! ;-D

(If the embeded video below fails to play, go here)

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At 7:30 PM, May 01, 2018, Blogger kjb434 said...

Regarding the dirt removed from the reservoirs, much of it would be considered toxic. It will also be quite silty which is horrible as a structural fill.

The big issues is where to dispose dirt that has settled out oil and other runoff from the upstream development for 70 years.

At 8:02 PM, May 01, 2018, Blogger George Rogers said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:05 PM, May 01, 2018, Blogger George Rogers said...

Lewis Black pretending to know nothing about Houston and Texas.

At 8:35 AM, May 02, 2018, Blogger James said...

Widened freeways filling up would be success if that were the stated goal of widening them. In fact, projects are sold to the public as “reducing congestion.” I doubt people would be so enthusiastic about funding them if sales pitch were “we’re gonna bulldoze part of the city and make you put up with years of construction so we can have more cars moving slower than ever.”

Bill King makes the same logical error in judging transit nationally based on its ridership. Only in the largest cities is much transit at all designed with the goal of achieving high ridership. Most service in most cities serves other goals like geographic coverage or isn’t designed with a goal in mind at all.

Houston is three times the geographic size of Chicago so the same number of jobs doesn’t seem impressive.

At 8:44 AM, May 02, 2018, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

But Chicago is both a larger city and metro population-wise.

At 10:17 AM, May 02, 2018, Blogger George Rogers said...

Houston also has twice as many people commuting into city limits as Chicago!

At 3:23 PM, May 03, 2018, Blogger George Rogers said...

Why people hate New Yorkers!

At 8:03 AM, May 04, 2018, Anonymous awp said...

"The analogy I use is adding a runway at an airport: if it filled up with new flights, is that somehow bad?"

It would be less bad if users were even covering the costs of the infrastructure they are using. It wouldn't be bad if they were also covering the external costs they were imposing on everyone else.

At 10:42 PM, May 19, 2018, Blogger Pseudo3D said...

I can see why you largely quit HAIF, the "Cars Ruining Cities" article had a lot of supporters because the current crowd at HAIF tends to the urbanist, elitist type, who literally don't understand that when you strip wealth out of density, you end up with a rapidly decreasing quality of life that no trains can fix.

At 6:24 PM, May 23, 2018, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Good point. I still keep an eye on HAIF, but haven't felt compelled to weigh-in in a while. It's easy to get bogged down in debates that aren't changing anyone's mind.


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