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Urbanrailfan

Driving In Houston

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I've read on this website about how people drive around in Detroit and Charlotte. I got a kick out of those lists. Now I get to talk about the most car oriented city in the Dirty South.

Houston ranks as the fourth largest city in the U.S. But it is not transit oriented right off the bat. Getting around the city takes a lot of patience against road warriors that run this city, freeways, city streets, or transit. Here are more reasons why it is too car dependent, and I also have some stern tips to the average Houston driver as well.

1. Car dependence is heavily influenced by politicians, past and present. They think they are better than anybody who supports transit. When transit proposals failed or got rejected in the past, car dependence went up higher.

2. Politicians who don't want money invested in transit improvements want money invested in not only roads, but investing in cars for people who couldn't afford them. One politician would rather have money go towards "Buying everybody a Mercedes Benz." How the hell are poor people supposed to deal with that. A Benz would mean buying expensive clothes just to ride it out in style.

3. There is Construction in Houston and you are going to see lots of it from time to time. Everywhere you look, the street scenery is always associated with orange cones and orange signs.

4. An 8 lane freeway is never enough to hold free flowing traffic, or so you say. When TXDot wants to go to ten lanes, instead of adding it on the side, they close the lanes, destroy the center divider just to make room for reduced lanes of traffic. They tear the affected portion of a bridge down, then take 6 months to rebuild it. Same process for the other direction of traffic and other half of freeway after this part is over with.

5. Construction on freeway plays another factor: nighttime sky pollution. When a freeway is rebuilt, they take all the street lights down, and instead of putting new ones up, they get these sky street lights roughly 3 stories high with 16 lights attached to one pole. These line up on the whole stretch of freeway for long distances. At night, if you live close to a freeway, you won't get to see the stars and moon behind all them orange lights.

6. Freeways take up so much land because of continuous frontage roads. To get off a freeway ramp, you will have to travel longer to get to the street you want. Businesses line the freeway, and they don't want anybody to go through any lights to get there. Close this ramp down and move it. Just laziness.

7. There is such a thing as eight lane city streets. I'M NOT LYING!!!

8. Reversible HOV lanes separated from the rest of the freeway are a real ugly eyesore when they have bridges. They got all these unneccessary bridges raised up in T-sections when carpools and buses want to take a "secret" exit to a street or park-&-ride lot. Can't they just exit to the rest of traffic and exit from the right side and not smack in the middle.

9. You can't even tell if you are going over a bridge or not. A bridge hump would have the same concrete barrier before, on and after the bridge. No two types of guardrail are used.

10. Houstonians have a strange way of naming one single freeway with two or more names. Can't they settle on just one? If I-10 is called the Katy Freeway, it's also called the West Freeway. If Highway 59 is Southwest Freeway, it's also called Senator Bentson Freeway, the NAFTA Highway, I-69 (does not exist yet), etc.

11. Does TxDot need ALL that space to widen freeways? Houston has so much concrete they haphazardly spill it in so many places. they kill trees and grass for this sh**? And frontage roads will have to be relocated a few more feet away. If you own business on these roads, you better have it 30 feet away from the street, or else, here comes the bulldozer and wrecking ball! Your gas station or restaurant is bound to be displaced.

12. Now let's take it to the streets. The city buys land to add one more lane on each side. They are just starting to do this right now in the Uptown Galleria area.

13. We have all heard about METRORail's accident rate. Note to drivers: wouldn't it kill you to just go straight and make four right turns around the whole block instead of being so hardheaded and conceited about the way you drive.

14. There are two parallel thoroughfares along the street Metrorail uses, but these drivers are just too damn lazy to use them. Being one block over wouldn't hurt you. IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!

15. Can you imagine if some of those drivers who run into the trains are taxpayers? If so, it is just suicide to try to take revenge by attempting to get your tax money back from the city of Houston. Try suing METRO. You will LOSE, I guarantee you. Not only you won't get your tax money back plus extra for car repairs, you are also stuck with your insurance rate hike for the rest of your life.

16. Every time a bus or train goes by, drivers just proudly snarl up their nose, like "Eh, I won't ride the bus or train. I'm too good for either."

17. And to tell me YOU would rather pay over $8000 a year on your transportation expense? Part from your car, if you will, and save some money if you have kids to send to college. Man, I thought Houston was inexpensive in most fields, but not this one.

18. Some of these drivers "auto" have their cars and licenses taken away for a short time. Houstonians need to excercise more. It won't hurt to walk a long distance. If not, just improvise - take a bike, run as fast as you can - just to make an errand. Don't keep running to your car all the time. No wonder this city used to be so fat (it is now Detroit).

19. If it rains to where there is street flooding, drivers would rather risk flooding their car engines than putting on some outdoor boots and highwaters. Only trucks and SUVs are safe.

20. With a lot of rain every year, not all the potholes get fixed. Half of them are still in the streets. It is a conspiracy to kick the axle off balance.

21. Some METRORail crashes are a result of rushy people crossing the street - AT THE LAST MINUTE. Metrorail is fixated on traffic lights that stay green or turn green. Cross traffic doesn't get the message. A train could be barreling on you two seconds into the red light.

22. If you are in downtown, be careful not to drive into the Main STreet Fountain. You should have been told by now that two blocks of Main Street are closed. One for the fountain, the other for pedestrians. You also run your own risk of your car stuck in the tracks; you can't back out if your engine floods right off the bat. You should also see the immediate right turn arrow in yellow rectangle one half block ahead of time.

23. Light rail: COST TOO MUCH, DOES TOO LITTLE. Stop making this excuse and ride the RAILS! I'm tired of this excuse to rob middle class of traveling options within the city. It is the roads that cost too much to maintain.

24. We can't keep having accidents that peel off the front bumper of the LRTs. Right now METRORail only has 16 rail cars - so treat them with RESPECT! We can't keep towing trains to the garage for the same repairs every week. It's not cheap.

25. I read somewhere in the Chronicle that streets need to be improved for pedestrian friendliness. The most accident prone street used to be dangerous before rail, where people would disregard no turn signs without a problem. They can't do that anymore. So the city might as well take the privilege of driving down Main Street in Midtown away, and turn it into a 15 foot pedestrian mall.

26. The main road in Memorial Park needs its speed limit lowered to 35 because of dangerous pedestrian walks crossing it. They drive too fast, as parts of this road become a partial mini freeway. Otherwise they'll have to reroute it through the park, tearing down trees in the process. Or build a pedestrian bridge over the street like what they have in downtown and the Texas Medical Center.

27. And finally, the pollution rate gives the city a smelly brown piece of air. The smell of the air is no better than the smell of a million pounds of dog feces out of a thousand dogs. Makes you not want to breathe.

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I read most of this, and I really haven't the slightest idea what you are discussing. Let's see.

Westheimer Road is one of many, many 8 lane boulevards, and their are EVEN more plans to widen it.

Much of what you say contradictis other things you said. You said they could expan city streets, then you gripe about how they expand city streets in the Galleria.

The feeder road is a fad Houston started, is famed for, and will never start, and the feeder road, is my opinion of city planning, a great success. Houston is very nicely developed, and has what is accordingly to Wikipedia, the nation's hottest economy. Houston is a major success of every city planning element IMO, but you may have your own as well. Hosuton almsot has more restaraunts than any other American city, and the best and busiest conglomerate along the busiest arteries, and freeways. The Katy Freeway, which was deemed as America's 2nd worse traffic disaster a few years ago, is to be expanded into a 22 lane freeway.

I suppose this is just the review of a southern republican city by someone who believes in a differant political/planning stance. Kudo's for posting you views, Urbanrailfan.

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