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Old Posted Aug 12, 2019, 10:02 PM
Northern Light Northern Light is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2009
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Originally Posted by plutonicpanda View Post
Jesus Christ man you make it hard to respond because of the way you post. I must have missed the impact on property taxes you brought up so I'm guessing you're referring to property lost from ROW acquisition leading to less property tax? If not please explain.
I am not.

I am referring to the idea that new highway capacity creates more sprawl.

We more or less agree on this.

Now the question is, how much does sprawl cost to service?

Its not just the highway, its the local road, the sewer, the water, the additional school, library, community centre, garbage pick-up etc. etc.

Those costs are higher, per person, when properties are more spread out.

We could create endless different models for comparison, but let's try to keep it as simple as possible.

If you build a brand new house, in an established, somewhat central Houston neighbourhood, on 0.4 acres of lot.

The watermain is already there, no additional pipe under road is required.

The sewer is already there, same thing.

The electricity wire is there too.

So is the existing school, library, community centre etc.

If, the additional household caused any of these to be expanded, the library might only need 0.5 more staff, and the same sized lot.

ditto the community centre.

The fire hall might be one extra truck; but there would not be an additional fire hall.

Replace that with the new house in suburbia, on a one acre lot.

It requires all new pipes, and all new wires.

The amount of pipe and wire and pavement is 2.5x per person what exists on that central lot (1 acre vs 0.4)

Since there is no fire hall today, a new one must be added.

Since there is no school today, one must be added.

That creates incremental costs that adding 2 classrooms to an existing school or one truck to an existing fire hall do not.

Because servicing this household is more expensive per person, but they pay property tax at the same rate as other taxpayers, they don't cover their own costs.

That means property taxes must rise to hold services the same, or services must be cut to hold taxes down.

The house in the central area creates far less cost, which is fully covered by their property tax and may even come in below, essentially creating a profit or dividend for the City that could be used to improve service or lower taxes.

I am not suggesting sprawl to stop and it won't stop regardless of freeways. Even cities like Vancouver(BC) that have not a single freeway in the city sprawl. Other more low density sprawl further.
Vancouver has/had a Greenbelt in place prohibiting sprawl beyond a certain point. The previous provincial government shifting the boundary allowing more sprawl.

This created more congestion and longer commutes just as I noted.

Since new freeways are verboten, transit is now being extended to those suburbs at great cost, after the fact.

Sprawl is not mutually exclusive with freeways and how come rail causing sprawl is never an issue?
Next time you see a subway line built to a farmer's field, we can discuss the effects of rail on sprawl. Doubtless there would be such an effect, if rail were routinely extended beyond the edges of the urban region before any growth had occurred. This used to happen in the 19thC.

But it rarely, if ever, happens today.

How can you prove this growth in Houston wouldn't happen without additional freeway lanes?
No one can prove a negative hypothetical.

I support the sprawl and enjoy it. I will argue it offers a much better QOL than concrete jungles can.
I disagree with your preference, but it is just that, a preference, and you are entitled to that.

So how come a large majority of freeways outside of the major cities have freeways that flow fine? How come the Katy freeway flows fine during the day? How come I-40 in OKC flows fine years after having been widened?
If a city doesn't grow, then the induced demand does not occur or only at a much lower rate.

Asking why a highway moves well in an an area where there are no/few people is rather peculiar, I think the answer is rather self-evident.

As is the answer to why highways move better outside of rush hours.

PS, many of the things you suggest, Houston is actively doing! Making more walk-able areas, building bike paths, building/planning new rail/BRT lines, planning for HSR, etc. Houston is also expanding freeways at the same time doesn't mean they aren't doing other things.
I'm not suggesting these other things aren't happening. I am suggestion the proportions in the plan are not ideal. That a greater emphasis needs to go on transit etc., and less on highway expansion. Houston is not short of highways.

Houston can be compared to Phoenix, possibly Denver, Atlanta, etc. Cities are unique and have their own problems, especially cities like Houston. [/quote]

Houston is not that unique. Yes each city is modestly different, but the principles are the same.

A bus will always move people more efficiently than 40 cars etc etc. No matter the City, its size or geography.

You're asking me to compare Houston to other cities that all have very poor public transit utilization. That doesn't work if I'm trying to make a case that transit can work. I need to use a City as example where it does work. Not one where it does not.