HOUSTON I-45 Parkway + Tunnel

 
Houston I-45 "MULTIMODAL" Corridor

Dallas DART experience - The North Central Expressway corridor in Dallas has many similarities with I-45 in Houston. In fact both corridors were constructed about the same time and expanded in the same time period. There is one exemption, North Central Expressway has already been expanded and must be noted that the Dallas Area Rapid Transit agency (DART) has included high capacity transit along the corridor. In effect this high capacity transit has added the equivalent of two highway lanes to the corridor.

Following are slides presented by DART at the 2005 Houston Transportation and Mobility Conference held at UH.

North Central Expressway first constructed in the 1950s it was one of the first highways built in Dallas. In the 1990s North Central was expanded but instead of the traditional "pancake" (flat) expansion it was placed below grade. Picture shows the existing North Central Expressway after reconstruction.

Map on left shows DART's light rail system. The highlighted alignment (purple and yellow) is the Red line that follows the North Central Expressway corridor.

DART's light rail system is one of the most successful systems in the country. Regarding the North Central Expressway corridor the Red line actually adds the capacity equivalent to two highway lanes.

The brilliant concept about locating the Red line along North Central Expressway is the easy option that drivers have to get off the highway and park & ride DART into downtown.

The option to use light rail has proven to have many benefits over driving a car into downtown such as: scheduled light rail routes are fixed and are not affected by traffic delays or accidents, allows to relax and/or free time to read, and the cost of the ride is minimal in comparison to the cost of parking downtown.

DART's transit system includes an underground tunnel segment that avoid the congestion of downtown streets.

City Place Station (picture on left) is located underground.

In reference to Houston METRO it should be noted that in some instances building rail systems underground are the best option in the development of a system that is to benefit the region short and long term.

DART in partnership with local cities has also been very successful in generating transit oriented development.

Instead of bringing high capacity transit to already developed areas with transit service, in some instances DART has built stations in areas that had no development. This strategy has provent to be very successful since it allows for new development and generates new transit users.

The I-45 corridor has many advantages for implementation of high capacity transit such as:

  • Adds capacity to the highway corridor.
  • Greenspoint Mall is ideal location for development of a park and ride facility.
  • Develops the main system for future expansion to, among others: The Woodlands, Intercontinental Airport, and Hobby Airport.
  • And enhances the redevelopment of the surface I-45 into a future parkway similar to Allen Parkway. Rendering below shows concept of what I-45 could become.