Houston: Going in Circles?

March 4th, 2009

How many circles of freeways does Houston need around its girth? One more, according to TXDOT’s stimulus spending priorities. The idea of a “Grand Parkway,” nearabouts 180 miles long, circling the Houston area way out beyond 610 or Sam Houston or Beltway 8.

A number of environmental and conservation groups oppose the Grand Parkway and want stimulus transportation funds devoted more to transit and less towards road construction.

Texas has to strike a balance between adding more roads, which in some cases are needed and in other cases just spur further sprawl and counteract attempts to create liveable cities, and investing in sound transit options like local rail, high speed rail connecting major Texas cities, and removing freight trains from tracks bisecting our big cities.

Meanwhile, the Houston Press says that Houston’s green building program, ranked 3rd in the nation for number of green projects, may not be as good as it looks. The Press says other cities just aren’t reporting their greenness as well as Houston does.

Let’s take our good news however we can get it: whether Houston is really #3, or just looks that way because it reported the statistics, it means a lot to say that, in Texas where we are notorious the world over for our energy consumption and pollution output, the City of Houston is doing what it can to help.

Here’s to tipping the balance from more far-flung suburban loop roads towards a vibrant city with lots of transit options and a healthy number of buildings that help address our air quality and energy consumption problems!