Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Over Under

The East End in Houston is building a light rail line. To perpendicularly cross the freight tracks, Metro has proposed building a bridge. The neighbors want an underpass. My first question would be what happens to the underpass in the medical center when you get a torrential rain storm, something that happens quite often in Houston. Does it flood? If so, it doesn't seem like a great idea, however aesthetically pleasing. Does anyone know of other lines that have a flooding problem?

8 comments:

Bob Davis said...

I've never been to Houston, but I understand it has the topography of a billiard table. This makes it hard for storm runoff to flow downhill when there are few or no hills. I would also guess that the water table is fairly high. Perhaps the folks in the area under discussion should visit San Jose or Los Angeles, where some light rail overpasses are in place.

Rhywun said...

Now they're just grasping for straws. A two-track rail bridge is an eyesore? When was the last time a Texan lodged a complaint over one of their patented triple-decker 12-lane motor-vehicle gargantuas?

jon said...

seriously rhywun

i guess it depends how well maintained the drains are and the amount of rain

yeah theres an underpass in San Jose on first to go under a rail line just north of downtown, this would be a pretty good comparison

Michael said...

I don't think the underpass on the Main St. line has ever flooded. It has really good drainage.

Now if they would just start building these damned lines already - they've been in the planning stages for several years already. Yet somehow they'll all be finished by 2012. The east line is technically under construction, but until the federal government gives it some money they are doing very minor work.

Jeramey Jannene said...

I can't imagine rain coming down hard enough to flood the underpass if a drainage system was in place.

Madison, Wisconsin has a pedestrian underpass that water runs into, but it drains very well so there never is a small pond forming.

Christof Spieler said...

I know the people who are fighting for the underpass. They're not trying to kill the line -- these are transit supporters. What they want is to make sure that walkable area around every transit station is as good as possible, because that's where we want the pedestrian- and transit- oriented redevelopment to happen. An overpass several thousand feet long, starting just two blocks from a station, will discourage that. The geometry of this site is such that the underpass would be half as long as the overpass, so there's a significant difference.

And, no, the underpass on the existing line has not been a flooding problem.

Christof Spieler said...

Another point: the overpass in question isn't just for the rail line; it's for the street as well (to eliminate the current grade crossing; this is a condition for getting city funding.) So we're talking 6 lanes wide, not 2, in addition to one at-grade frontage lane in each direction. That's freeway-sized. I don't know that an LRT-only bridge would upset the neighborhood nearly as much.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

That makes sense. It will be interesting to see what happens. Do you have an idea as to if the funding for this will be charged fully to the transit project?