Texas DOT Is Planning to Tear Down a Highway — Seriously

The Pierce Elevated Freeway, near downtown Houston, has been proposed for removal. Photo: TexasFreeway.com
The Pierce Elevated Freeway, near downtown Houston, has been proposed for removal by Texas DOT. Photo: TexasFreeway.com

This may be the best evidence yet that attitudes about transportation are beginning to change in Texas’s major cities. As part of a plan to redesign and reroute Interstate 45 in the heart of Houston, TxDOT — that’s right, the Texas Department of Transportation — is proposing to tear down a short segment of the Pierce Elevated Freeway near downtown.

Over in Dallas, Patrick Kennedy at Street Smart is feeling a bit jealous. He thinks there’s a lot to like about this plan:

Looking at the details, the removed Pierce Elevated doesn’t unlock a lot of land, but it does reposition a TON of underdeveloped sites along both sides of it. It doesn’t do a lot to reconnect the grid underneath it where the grid is already well connected between downtown and Midtown. Everything between is an absolute gold mine for infill where they can harnass their growth and focus it inward towards a more sustainable future.

Along the west side of town, they’re boulevarding, parkway-ing if  you will, the segment between the Buffalo Bayou and downtown. This will probably have a more significant impact from a grid interconnectivity standpoint.

They’re also proposing to plow the new 45 alignment through a dreadful public housing project where they can then shift those affordable units to mixed-income developments near jobs and transit in the area between downtown/midtown without being isolated and concentrated in the current no-man’s land condition. Right where affordable housing needs to be in order to provide humane living conditions and access to opportunity and the step ladder out of these residents’ current condition.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Tim Kovach has an update on how Ohio continues to pathetically shortchange transit. Strong Towns‘ Chuck Marohn excerpts a piece he wrote for the American Conservative about the financial benefits of urbanism. And Seattle Transit Blog‘s Matthew Johnson explains why he supports continuing to allow cars on Pike Place, the city’s largely pedestrianized “woonerf.”

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