Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Top Job Centers

Houston Tomorrow sent me a really nice graphic, attached.

What it shows is that even our here in the suburbs we're really in the "hot" zone for proximity to jobs; of course, we who've lived here for twenty years and have worked in the Energy Corridor and Westchase have always know that, which is why we came... but it also shows that a minimum-investment (Bus Rapid Transit) system going north from I-10 up State Highway 6 could be very useful in connecting Cy-Fair / Copperfield to the employment centers, and it would greatly debottleneck State Highway 6 and I-10.

Bus Rapid Transit would be a faster service more like Park & Ride buses than like slow local services.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Greater West Houston Subregional Planning Public Meeting Feedback

The sub-region is pretty much choking on single-occupant vehicles (SOVs), and vehicular miles traveled (VMTs). Both the local arterial grid and the freeway / tollway traffic are getting absolutely unmanageable. The stress and delay and impact on personal life and business are growing exponentially.

We need to stop confusing Persons (Passengers) and Cars/Trucks. They are not the same. A Car/Truck is not a Person. We have to increase Passenger (People) Miles Traveled, while decreasing or at least keeping VMT level, while expanding the Passenger (People) carrying capacity of the transportation system overall.


It's pretty amazing (not in a good way) that we have a huge commercial district, the Energy Corridor District, with more jobs than the San Diego CA central business district, and it's impossible to get to it from the NW, NE, and SW corners of the study area using transit. When you consider the massive local congestion around the I-10 at commute times, and when you look at the construction cranes building more space for thousands of workers who will be driving SOVs if nothing is changed, then you can see it's a recipe for a gridlock.

I have lived in the study area for twenty years, and have paid the METRO 1% sales tax all that time, and I have no local transit, and no prospects for ever getting any that I know of. I am seriously considering leaving this area after having made my money in the energy industry. This has to be addressed. By the 2040 time horizon of this study, I will be 79 years old. Clearly, absent changes, this won't be an area where I can “age-in-place” after my car driving days are over.

Westchase has better local transit along Westheimer, Richmond, and Gessner, but it suffers from the same handicap as Energy Corridor in getting people in from the NW, NE, and SW corners of the study area.

I can only speak as someone who lives close to SH6, but I think there is so much potential for high-speed, high-capacity transit along SH6 / FM1960. It could eventually go from Sugar Land and wrap around all the way to Bush IAH airport.

I don't want to be caught in the debate about bus vs. train for this transit line. Obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Personally I think, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) would be much faster and less expensive to initially deploy, and would be more appropriate for testing demand in places that have never had any transit before.

But the main point for SH6/FM1960 transit are: (1) infrequent stops, (2) fast accelerating vehicles, and most important of all, (3) dedicated guideways for the vehicles. We want to transit vehicles to make way down SH6 at 50 MPH when the SOVs are stopped in gridlock. Drivers will think, “Man, how do I get on that one! I gotta get out of this traffic!”.  That's how you build demand and ridership.

This SH6/FM1960 line would connect to the transit grid at the Addicks P&R and at Briarforest (let's extend the 53 all the way to SH6), and Westheimer.

At Addicks P&R, we need a really frequent and fast set of circulators to get people from the P&R to local businesses quickly. The #75 bus is a crosstown, not a circulator. A bike station and bike rental would allow some to get to work by the mode. No one will be walking; the distances are too great.

At Briarforest and/or Westheimer, we definitely need shelters for bus riders, who will be waiting to connect, possibly in rain, for connection to the SH6 BRT.

Speaking of Westheimer, Westheimer also needs to be a BRT corridor, from SH6 all the to at least the Galleria, if not all the way Downtown, with a dedicated guideway for the transit vehicle. In it's full elaboration, the BRT could run out to SH99 Grand Parkway, and take commuting travlers off of the completely clogged Westpark Tollway to important work destinations (Energy Corridor via #75 bus, Westchase, Galleria, Midtown, Downtown).


The Terry Hershey Trail and George Bush Park trails are huge cycling assets. The TxDOT FM529 bikeway is pretty good, not bad. Both of those assets run E-W.

The sub-region is just starving for N-S bike/ped connectivity, especially north of I-10. Fry, Greenhouse, Barker-Cypress, Queenston, SH6, Eldridge are as bike/ped unfriendly as you can get, although Fry is OK where it has wide shoulders north of FM529.

The real problem is a political one, and that is that Harris County has been absent on purpose from the issue of incorporating bike/ped as a roadway design element... Because they think they are “done” when they design for cars alone. They only build “Incomplete Streets”.

In 1960, seatbelts were an “amenity” that you could order as an option on cars. You had to pay extra for them, and then GM or Ford would be happy to install them. This is pretty much the attitude that Harris County has towards sidewalks; an amenity that improves quality of life, but not strictly necessary. The decades will show, and they are showing in our bulging waistlines and the Harris County Hospital District expenditures on diabetes, that sidewalks are strictly necessary. Harris County will not even consider on-street bike accomodations, even though there are newer and safer ways to do this by segregating the flows to some degree. This out-moded thinking has to end if the region is to move away from SOVs.

If you don't have widespread bike/ped accomodation, you can't feed a transit system. If you can't feed a transit system, you can't move out of SOVs. If you can't move out of SOVs, the sub-region will continue to choke on the traffic, and personal lives and businesses will be harmed. That's the “do nothing” scenario. If we aren't going to do anything, why have this study? Just to feed transportation consultants in 2014?

A real emphasis on bike/ped in the sub-region should be on feeding the transit grid, and overall the  West Houston sub-region has to adopt a Complete Streets approach.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Subregional Planning Comes to Greater West Houston

The Greater West Houston area, home to nearly 660 thousand residents and 388 thousand jobs, has seen significant growth over the last 20 years.

H-GAC has initiated a comprehensive transportation and land use study for West Houston. The Greater West Houston Subregional Planning Initiative will examine strategies for improving travel on the region's freeways, toll roads and surface streets, as well as transit, pedestrian and bicycle systems. H-GAC invites the public to a meeting on October 15.

Greater West Houston Public Meeting
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Wolfe Elementary Gym
502 Addicks-Howell Road.
Houston, TX 77079

The study will collect information to analyze existing land use and envision future land-use scenarios (including protection of environmentally sensitive areas and green spaces). A series of short, medium and long range projects will be identified to help improve mobility throughout the study area, which is bound by FM 529 to the north including the US 290/Beltway 8 interchange area, SH 99/Grand Parkway to the west, the Campbell/ Blalock/Fondren corridor to the east and Bellaire Boulevard to the south.

The public will have an opportunity to participate through public meetings scheduled over the next seven months. An online survey is available at

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bridgeland Shell on Fry Road destroys shoulder usability for cyclists

Notice how Bridgeland Shell on Fry Road has continued the grass actually into the shoulder of Fry Road, thereby forcing bicyclists to move into the lane of heavy 50 MPH  car traffic? If they try to ride through the grass, they risk a fall, especially if they have narrow road bike tires.

This is entirely unsuitable, it's similar to what Cy-Ranch High School did a few years ago to the same shoulders, and they fixed it. Shell needs to fix it also.

Timewise Shell
10902 Fry Rd.
Cypress, TX 77433
(281) 213-3268

Open 24 Hours!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Donate money NOW to save the Deer Park Prairie! Three week extension granted

I just donated $100 !!!!save-deer-park-prairie/c19cm

Overtime for Deer Park Prairie!

“Prairie-grass-roots” fundraising effort gets reprieve

In the most ambitious conservation land fund drive of its kind ever launched in Texas, $3.2 million dollars was raised from individuals to help save the Deer Park Prairie - in less than one week!
Led by Bayou Land Conservancy, with its prairie partners, the Native Prairies Association of Texas, Katy Prairie Conservancy and the Houston Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, the fundraising blitz of the past week has gone into “overtime” for this special 53-acre piece of “platinum-quality” prairie.

Due to the record number of individual donors who came forward, the Deer Park landowner has agreed to extend the deadline from August 20th to September 10th, providing Bayou Land Conservancy with 3 more weeks to raise the remaining $800,000 necessary for the $4 million purchase.
Jaime Gonzalez, Education Director for the Katy Prairie Conservancy, said “For the landowner to provide this extra grace period, when so many people were just hearing about this special prairie for the first time, is a true blessing.”

“The turnout of individual donors in such a condensed time period has been nothing less than phenomenal,” said Jennifer Lorenz, Executive Director of Bayou Land Conservancy. In her 20 years of land conservation fundraising experience “there has been no comparison to the donors of this campaign who expressed genuine shock that such an ancient prairie still existed, and that conservation organizations were trying to compete with hot housing market development pressure. Their enthusiasm was palpable.”

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Greater West Houston Subregional Planning Initiative

The Greater West Houston Subregional Planning Initiative is a comprehensive multi-modal transportation study that will explore different land use and transportation scenarios for the Greater West Houston region. The study will examine improved transportation strategies for freeways, toll ways, local streets, transit, and pedestrian and bicycle networks.  A series of short, medium and long range projects will be identified to help improve mobility throughout the study area.

This study will identify short, medium and long-range transportation investments in the Greater West Houston region as well as encourage responsible development choices, in a manner that will ensure the enhancement of the quality of life within the region.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Highway 6 / FM 529 intersection public meeting

State Highway 6 / FM 529 intersection public meeting by TxDOT. June 18, 2013, Langham Creek High School, 6 -8 pm Houston TX 77095

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Next Step in State Highway 6 Improvements, from I-10 to US290 in Cy-Fair

TXDOT Houston has proposed $2.6 million for the 2013-2016 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for more environmental analysis and design of implementation projects from the SH 6 Access Management study which was completed awhile ago (meetings were at Copperfield Church).

The major components will likely include raised medians and intersection improvements. Additional elements could include ped/bike enhancements (in this corridor, probably sidewalks), driveway consolidation and other access management treatments.

Unfortunately, the public comment period has just ended. Funding for this work is seen as "likely" (green status on H-GAC website).