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Author Topic: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success  (Read 7404 times)

MaxConcrete

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Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« on: February 04, 2015, 07:37:31 PM »

http://impactnews.com/houston-metro/katy/grand-parkway-paves-the-way-for-growth/

The toll road with four lanes (two each way) is just barely a year old and is already carrying 80,000 vehicles per day. Four-lane highways generally succumb to congestion at 100,000 vehicles per day and can't carry much more traffic.

The connecting section north of US 290 is still under construction so that could feed even more traffic onto this segment. For those not familiar, the article refers to the high connection ramps at the interchange with Interstate 10 west.


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Grand Parkway paves the way for growth

by Jim Levesque, Jordan Gribble

January 28, 2015

The Grand Parkway, the third and outermost loop around Houston, was envisioned more than 50 years ago. The idea behind the massive project was that the 200-mile roadway would help alleviate future highway congestion and spur growth and development as the Bayou City expanded.

The roadway still under construction has done all of that, but it also has caused new problems with traffic backups and has added to the growing pains it was supposed to help ease.

Nearly 80,000 vehicles travel daily on Segment E—from I-10 in Katy to Hwy. 290—of the Grand Parkway, and that part of the roadway is quickly approaching its maximum capacity, Grand Parkway officials said. Since opening to traffic in December 2013, drivers have seen ever-increasing congestion at the I-10 entrance and its exits to Katy’s commercial districts south of I-10.

Traffic is expected to continue to increase as more businesses and residential zones open alongside the highway.

...

Officials are already looking at the possible expansion of Segment E, including adding lanes in both directions and new feeder roads even as construction of segments of the Grand Parkway continues across the Greater Houston area.

Congestion on the Grand Parkway’s I-10 entrance, particularly during rush hour between 4–6 p.m., exists for three reasons, said David Gornet, executive director of the Grand Parkway Association.

“There are three challenges we have with that ramp,” Gornet said. “The ramp is at capacity with 1,800 to 1,900 cars trying to use it. Then there are drivers who slow down as they go up that hill. Then there are people who cut lines.
 

NE2

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2015, 07:38:17 PM »

That's what they call induced demand.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2015, 07:48:12 PM »

That's what they call induced demand.
Actually, it's what happens in a boomtown. The collapse of oil prices has not really hit Houston yet, so this is an effect of the super-strong economy in 2014.

Also, I don't think you can induce demand in one year. Neighborhoods and commercial real estate can't be built that quickly. Of course, a lot of development probably occurred in anticipation of the highway. It is likely that much of the traffic came of overutilized nearby surface streets like Mason and Fry roads.

Whatever the cause, I think inducing demand is a good thing. That means more economic activity, more construction, more people in nice new homes and more people going to work.

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2015, 07:55:36 PM »

Whatever the cause, I think inducing demand is a good thing. That means more global warming.
Fixed for you.
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froggie

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2015, 08:10:12 PM »

Quote
Whatever the cause, I think inducing demand is a good thing. That means more economic activity, more construction, more people in nice new homes and more people going to work.

...and a lot more congestion than the roadway was typically built or expanded to cover.  It's not all a good thing.
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jbnv

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2015, 09:45:35 PM »

If you have chosen to make your home and career in Houston--check that: your career in Houston and your home in a bedroom community dozens of miles from your workplace--I can't say that I have sympathy for you.
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lordsutch

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2015, 09:54:20 PM »

"Induced" demand implies that the road itself created the demand for the trips. I'd say it's far more likely it was "latent" demand: people wanted to get from US 290 to I-10 and US 59 south (or vice versa) directly, but couldn't, so the trips weren't made. Now they can be, so they are.

Same thing happens with any form of transportation; there's an unobservable latent demand for high speed rail journeys from Houston to Dallas and vice versa; if the Central Texas Railway project happens, we'll see that demand realized, some of which will substitute from other modes (car, bus, air), some of which will be new (it's now more convenient to take in a Cowboys game over the weekend or see the Mavs play in Houston, so more people travel), and some of which will substitute from other trips that would have been taken otherwise.

And, to the extent it diverts trips that were longer or slower (likely via stop-and-go options like FM 1960), it would actually improve greenhouse gas emission levels in the area due to reduced idling and more efficient routing.
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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2015, 10:44:36 PM »

Bullshit. Any diversion from existing trips is more than offset by new trips to and from new sprawl. If only it were on the other side of Houston; then I could snark about the sprawl doing itself in with sea level rise.
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Perfxion

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2015, 06:55:58 AM »

All this, and when F1/2,G get built is going to make them want to make a 4th beltway around Houston. "We want to make sure people living in Huntsville and Sealy are able to travel to and from the metro area".
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OCGuy81

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2015, 10:18:31 AM »

Wow, that didn't take long!

I always thought a beltway that far out would have pretty sparse traffic, but touche Houston, proving that wrong.
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Marc

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2015, 12:40:34 AM »

Wow, that didn't take long!

I always thought a beltway that far out would have pretty sparse traffic, but touche Houston, proving that wrong.

Problem is, where SH 99 is located is no longer considered "far out" by today's standards.

Here's my gripe: How about they widen Segment D from IH 10 down to Westpark Tollway before they talk about widening Segment E? I guarantee traffic on this stretch is way worse than any part of Segment E. That said, the Segment D section in question is non-tolled, so they money might not be there.
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Bobby5280

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2015, 10:21:21 AM »

I wonder if a good amount of the traffic on TX-99 is coming from traffic trying to avoid some other construction areas, like all the crap going on with US-290 between I-610 and TX-99. If I was going to drive from Houston to Austin I would consider taking I-10 to TX-99 to US-290. It might be faster than dealing with the cluster going on with I-610 & US-290.
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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2015, 05:13:14 PM »

Did it really get to 80,000 vehicles per day within a year? Or 80,000 transactions per day on all tolling points of Segment E combined?

I find it hard to believe they built an entirely new freeway that would be overwhelmed with traffic within a year. That sounds like a major miscalculation. If they actually forecasted 80,000 vehicles per day within a year, why didn't they built six lanes from the beginning? If it starts off at 80,000 in one year, what kind of traffic will it carry in 2030? Six lanes may not even be enough then... A widening beyond six lanes would be quite expensive.

TXtoNJ

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2015, 05:59:28 PM »

Did it really get to 80,000 vehicles per day within a year? Or 80,000 transactions per day on all tolling points of Segment E combined?

I find it hard to believe they built an entirely new freeway that would be overwhelmed with traffic within a year. That sounds like a major miscalculation. If they actually forecasted 80,000 vehicles per day within a year, why didn't they built six lanes from the beginning? If it starts off at 80,000 in one year, what kind of traffic will it carry in 2030? Six lanes may not even be enough then... A widening beyond six lanes would be quite expensive.

It's a toll road, so it was bonded. They're in the process of building 170 miles, and the whole process will end up costing well more than $3 billion. They likely didn't have the financial means or authorization to build more than two lanes to begin with.

This will end up like Beltway 8 most likely - spend a decade or so recouping principal with the tolls, and spend another billion in bonds expanding the highway.
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dariusb

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2015, 08:23:08 PM »

It amazes me how quickly traffic will fill up a new road. Gives a whole new meaning to "build it and they will come".
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aboges26

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2015, 09:49:36 PM »

Did it really get to 80,000 vehicles per day within a year? Or 80,000 transactions per day on all tolling points of Segment E combined?

I find it hard to believe they built an entirely new freeway that would be overwhelmed with traffic within a year. That sounds like a major miscalculation. If they actually forecasted 80,000 vehicles per day within a year, why didn't they built six lanes from the beginning? If it starts off at 80,000 in one year, what kind of traffic will it carry in 2030? Six lanes may not even be enough then... A widening beyond six lanes would be quite expensive.

I have no idea what they forecasted for, but the segment connects a city of 122,000 people, Cypress, with the west Houston suburbs like Katy and Cinco Ranch, both close to 20,000 but with a large amount of developed unincorporated land surrounding them.  Katy's extensive commercial development, basically high job density and service availability, serve as a notable traffic generator.  The freeway has helped pull local traffic off city streets/urban roads between the NW suburbs and the west suburbs that could get up to 20+ miles, if one desired to drive that.  Naturally, a 10-20 mile drive on a freeway, or tollway in this case, is not nearly as much of a deterrent and has increased commerce.  Also, this segment helps to serve as a bypass for numerous medium to long distance routes that may not all have been considered.

But the segment really seems to encourage traffic with its location. and distribution of development.  I guess it is a case of, at least something got built!
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Bobby5280

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2015, 10:57:24 PM »

It would be interesting to see how much long distance traffic uses the new Grand Parkway segment. For instance, here in Oklahoma I personally know several different people who drive down to Houston on either a frequent basis or at least a couple times a year. Most of them are going to places in the western suburbs of Houston. So they avoid I-45 and travel down via I-35, TX-6 through College Station and then US-290 into the Houston area. The Grand Parkway is letting them get to destinations South of I-10 a lot easier.
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rte66man

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2015, 08:29:52 PM »

It would be interesting to see how much long distance traffic uses the new Grand Parkway segment. For instance, here in Oklahoma I personally know several different people who drive down to Houston on either a frequent basis or at least a couple times a year. Most of them are going to places in the western suburbs of Houston. So they avoid I-45 and travel down via I-35, TX-6 through College Station and then US-290 into the Houston area. The Grand Parkway is letting them get to destinations South of I-10 a lot easier.


Agreed, except my cheap friends exit 290 at FM359 and head south to I-10 at Brookshier.
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Tom958

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2015, 08:42:40 PM »

So, they're gonna raise tolls to finance widening and to dissuade enough drivers from using it to prevent major congestion in the meantime. Right?  :clap:
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jbnv

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2015, 09:14:26 PM »

If I was going to drive from Houston to Austin I would consider taking I-10 to TX-99 to US-290. It might be faster than dealing with the cluster going on with I-610 & US-290.

My daughter lives northwest of Austin. When I visit her, I take I-10 to TX-71 to US-183. I don't even bother with the "610 slide" any more. 290 is boring, even without the construction.
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jbnv

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2015, 09:18:52 PM »

So, they're gonna raise tolls to finance widening and to dissuade enough drivers from using it to prevent major congestion in the meantime. Right?  :clap:
Well, if enough people are using it to justify raising the tolls, then they should raise the tolls because basic economics of supply and demand.
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US81

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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2015, 09:51:07 PM »

If I was going to drive from Houston to Austin I would consider taking I-10 to TX-99 to US-290. It might be faster than dealing with the cluster going on with I-610 & US-290.

My daughter lives northwest of Austin. When I visit her, I take I-10 to TX-71 to US-183. I don't even bother with the "610 slide" any more. 290 is boring, even without the construction.

71 is scenic and feels safer than the sections of 290 that have no median.
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Re: Houston: Grand Parkway Segment E a huge success
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2015, 02:45:07 PM »

So, they're gonna raise tolls to finance widening and to dissuade enough drivers from using it to prevent major congestion in the meantime. Right?  :clap:

With this amount of "success," I'm surprised congestion pricing hasn't been considered as a way to maybe raise money to widen the road, or at least expand the direct connectors where they are at capacity.
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