Hate the Gulf Freeway? Speak up tonight
Tonight is Clear Lake's turn to sound off again on how to solve congestion on the Gulf Freeway.
The Goodman Corp. is hosting an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Bayou Building, Atrium II. The company is working on behalf of several cities to put together the Galveston-Houston Mobility Corridor Alternatives Analysis, which is meant to address traffic problems between Galveston and Houston.
Tonight is the second meeting of a second set of three open houses being held by the Goodman Corp. From the first set of three open houses last year, the consulting company determined that commuter rail is the favored option of easing congestion on the Gulf Freeway.
A breakdown of public support so far for the options presented:
Of those who attended the meetings or e-mailed, 99 supported commuter rail, which was only opposed by 3 people, according to the Galveston-Houston Mobility Corridor Alternatives Analysis Newsletter.
The commuter rail option is the one that authorities are currently leaning toward. A train would run on Union Pacific's tracks east of I-45 at average speeds of 50 to 60 mph. The rails would need to be upgraded, but no freight trains would be allowed to use the tracks during the hours when the commuter trains are running. You'd typically need a transfer to get to your final destination, since stops are limited. It's a high-capital project, with a preliminary cost of $400 million, according to Goodman.
EXPRESS BUS SERVICE
For express bus service, the slowest but cheapest option, there were 11 opposed and six in favor. Buses would drive in diamond lanes on Highway 3 between Galveston and Bay Area Boulevard, and traffic signals on that stretch could be preempted to keep the buses moving. Between Bay Area and downtown, the buses packed with commuters would drive in what's currently the HOV lane on I-45, but buses running against the flow of rush-hour traffic would be relegated to regular lanes.
BUS RAPID TRANSIT
The least popular option by a nose, bus rapid transit, drew just four supporters and 12 opponents. High-capacity buses would largely take over our current barrier-lined HOV lane, which would be extended out to Galveston. Since a bus lane running in each direction is being suggested but planners don't want to reduce the number of general-traffic lanes, road crews would need to make use of the median, restripe lanes, pave the shoulder in some cases and perhaps acquire some right-of-way in certain spots.
Another option, of course, would be to do nothing at all.
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