Monday, May 15, 2023

Is the 18yr rebuild of 45N actually a good thing or will it kill downtown? Plus what's wrong with NYC?

 A couple items this week:

  • Chronicle: Nearly two decades: The long, long journey ahead for $9.7B rebuild of I-45. It is a crazy long schedule (see graphic below). What I can’t tell from this schedule is if the extended length is specifically because TXDoT wants to minimize disruption? Generally speaking, faster projects are more disruptive with more lane closures. Maybe they’re stretching it out so they don’t have to do that? If they’re not, that would be my advice to TXDoT: commit to keeping all existing lane capacity open throughout the construction process, even if that requires stretching the schedule. One silver lining of the rise of remote and hybrid work during the pandemic is that it may actually help employers endure the construction without moving because their employees can be more flexible about what hours and days they come in. If that can help reduce and stretch out rush hours, it can minimize the pain. I got quoted in this one:

“Past freeway projects typically only affected one or two spokes at a time, and downtown employers just dealt with it since it only affected a portion of their employee base,” said Tory Gattis, a senior fellow at the Urban Reform Institute, which advocates for business-focused downtown development. “But with the normalization of remote and hybrid work, as well as this project affecting all the freeways coming into downtown, it could definitely be the tipping point to major employers following Exxon to the suburbs or just going more remote so their employees won’t have to fight their way downtown as often.”

  • NYT: What’s the Matter With New York? Krugman keeps writing defensive articles about failed Blue city policies, but they’re not very convincing. He does support my case on housing though:

“For the middle class, however, living in New York really is hard to afford — not so much because of taxes, but because of housing costs. Here’s a very rough indicator (I’m sure that experts can produce a more accurate measure, but the conclusions surely won’t change): Zillow says that the median apartment rent in New York is $3,500, about $1,500 more than the median rent in, say, Dallas. Since median household income in New York is about $70,000 a year, the “housing tax” middle-class families pay for living in New York is on the order of 20 percent of their income, several times as large as the difference in actual taxes. And if you want to buy a house, the price gap is similar: Dallas is about 40 percent cheaper.


A major reason developers don’t build more housing in the New York area, and hence the reason living here is expensive, is that they aren’t allowed to thanks to zoning, land-use restrictions and — especially in the suburbs — community opposition.

In other words, never mind the lurid right-wing fantasies: NIMBYism, not crime or taxes, is the New York area’s main problem."

Krugman argues the high NY taxes are manageable, but the most upvoted comment strongly disagrees:

"Former Prosecutor, NYC:

I beg to differ Mr. Krugman. Taxes are killing NY and in a big way. You see, my wife and I are senior citizens in upstate NY about 1.5 hours north of NYC. Forty years ago we built our house and raised our 5 children. We love our home. We want to die here. But, NY State has made that impossible. Our property and school taxes are out of control. Yes, we do receive enhanced STAR but it is not enough. Our pensions and savings are not enough to keep up with the rising costs of taxes here in NY. In January we get our property tax bill that included the town, county and fire taxes. Then in September, the dreaded school tax bill comes and it’s a killer. Every senior citizen I know has moved out of NY and headed to Florida, Tennessee and the Carolinas. We worked hard, paid out taxes and are being forced to sell our dream home. Is that right? Is that American? Is that constitutional? It sure doesn’t feel like NY is trying to save Seniors. AND, the poor young people who want to buy our home or live in the area are burdened with the same problem, taxes. Lots of taxes. We don’t own a mansion. We don’t live large. We don’t have fancy cars. We live a modest life and want to stay near our children and grandchildren. I love NY Mr. Krugman but NY doesn’t love me or any senior citizens who want to stay, contribute and live out our lives in the state we love. But, its impossible. Other states are way more affordable and unfortunately, we are being taxes out of our home and must move. Un American"

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At 3:59 PM, May 20, 2023, Blogger TheCastle said...

While I'm glad that were building things again and getting much needed improvements to I-45. nimbyism defeated? Or maybe thats why this is so slow... What worries me is this doesn't seem to be from what I've read a significant capacity improvement. The capacity were adding is insufficient for today let alone 20 years from now. I guess this will be a permanent construction program.

At 10:10 AM, May 21, 2023, Blogger Max Concrete said...

@TheCastle: the main capacity addition is the 2x2 managed lanes along the full length of I-45, which replaces the single reversible HOV lane. Express lanes are added to I-10. Auxiliary lanes are added at bottleneck locations and around interchanges. Generally you are correct that general purpose capacity improvements are limited. The main exception is I-69 between Spur 527 and SH 288, which is being widened from 6 to 10 lanes.

At 9:52 AM, May 22, 2023, Blogger VeracityID said...

I45 reminds me of "Our Lady of Perpetual Chaos": the (seemingly 40 years) of wandering without even any manna west Loop 610 project. The good news: if THAT slow moving vehicular water torture didn't kill Uptown then I doubt the State Snails will affect downtown's inevitable evolution one way or another. The bad news: our state bureaucracy can't find its way out of the maze if regulation and bad business practices that make US infrastructure so much more expensive than in other countries.

At 8:46 AM, May 23, 2023, Blogger George Rogers said...

#Texit would solve a lot of problems. Most of the problems Texas has with infrastructure are due to the Federal Government!


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