Friday, December 17, 2010

“Houston, we have a Problem: Managing Growth as We Double in Size”

How does a city manage growth when it is about to double in size the next 20-30 years?

That is Houston’s problem – it is predicted that in the next 20 years Houston will grow from 4 million to 6.5 million – a 2.5 million increase. How will we move another 2.5 million on the same streets without gridlock? By 2030 we will DOUBLE in size. The problem for counties in Texas is that they have almost no executive authority compared to cities; yet nearly 35% of the population of Harris County lives in unincorporated areas that are not likely to be annexed by Houston. That makes regional planning difficult, even though it is necessary.

Talking about these “Smart Growth vs. Growth” issues on our program this week is Harris County Judge Ed Emmett along with David Crossly, President of Houston Tomorrow. It’s not often you have both sides of the political spectrum discussing these issues in the same room – and amazingly, there was a lot of agreement on issues like commuter rail, etc.

Houston is unique in that the growth in trade from both the widened Panama Canal and from the Atlantic trade from Europe is increasingly coming to the Port of Houston. Why? Because Houston sits in the middle of the USA; therefore, goods can be shipped east or west for shorter distances instead of being transshipped across the entire U.S. That freight is also causing a highway logjam as more and more freight trains block cars on their daily commutes. The original freight station that was “out of town” when Houston was founded is now located inside the 610 loop – way inside the city limits.

We also talk about the prospect of high speed rail linking the Texas Triangle – Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. We also touch on hurricanes and the problem of human trafficking.

Houston is a dynamic economic engine that continues to grow at an astounding rate compared to most cities in the U.S. Listen to the issues discussed by two of Houston’s leaders on our next Global American radio series.

When: 9 am Central time

Where: Business 1110 AM, Streamed at and podcast on (Click on “Favorite Programs”)

Coments welcome at our blog:

Michael Fjetland

Global American Series

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