AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: General Houston-area projects thread  (Read 4180 times)

CoreySamson

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1440
  • Buc-ee's Fanboy

  • Age: 18
  • Location: Greater Houston, TX
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 09:30:53 PM
General Houston-area projects thread
« on: June 14, 2021, 10:58:42 PM »

Figured that since Austin and DFW already have general threads for their freeways, Houston should probably have one.

Post here gossip, photos, project news, and really anything relating to Houston's roads.

I'll start off the discussion with a question; how is the reconstruction of the bridges on US 290 going (or has it already finished)? I remember going through that part of town late 2017 and there was construction all over the place on 290.
Logged
Houston-area teenage roadgeek.
Amateur guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist.

My Fictional Interstates thread

thisdj78

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 261
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Texas
  • Last Login: Today at 12:14:16 AM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2021, 11:23:18 PM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

The next proposed projects (outside of what has its own major discussion threads already) would be:

Fort Bend Tollway extension to 610
SH35 Freeway from Houston to Alvin
Southeast Grand Parkway segments

In progress:

Northeast Grand Parkway segments
Tomball/Aggie Expressway extension
Westpark Tollway extension

Hereís a good read on proposed Houston projects:

https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/aede9fcd-17a0-480d-b0fd-a36c0065dbd7/2040-RTP-exec-summary-april-2016.pdf
Logged

Chris

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2405
  • International road enthusiast

  • Age: 34
  • Location: the Netherlands
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 02:47:54 PM
    • Flickr
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2021, 04:31:48 AM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

Is the Hempstead Tollway still on the radar, or has that project faded away after the ban on new toll roads?

I believe it was originally planned to be built simultaneously with US 290, to be a system of express lanes on a parallel alignment instead of in the median.

thisdj78

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 261
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Texas
  • Last Login: Today at 12:14:16 AM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2021, 09:47:53 AM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

Is the Hempstead Tollway still on the radar, or has that project faded away after the ban on new toll roads?

I believe it was originally planned to be built simultaneously with US 290, to be a system of express lanes on a parallel alignment instead of in the median.

I believe itís dead now. They rebuilt 290 with a separated reversible HOV/Bus lane in the middle and a high occupancy lane going each direction as part of the main lanes.
Logged

MaxConcrete

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 805
  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 10:27:21 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2021, 01:20:38 PM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

Is the Hempstead Tollway still on the radar, or has that project faded away after the ban on new toll roads?

I believe it was originally planned to be built simultaneously with US 290, to be a system of express lanes on a parallel alignment instead of in the median.

I believe itís dead now. They rebuilt 290 with a separated reversible HOV/Bus lane in the middle and a high occupancy lane going each direction as part of the main lanes.

The Hempstead Tollway is most likely dead, and TxDOT is trying to replace it with 2x2 toll-free managed lanes along the same alignment. The managed lanes are proposed to be elevated inside BW8 to reduce right-of-way requirements. TxDOT is asking H-GAC to modify the long-term plan to include the elevated managed lanes, but as of tomorrow's meeting H-GAC is not including the change. H-GAC is also rejecting TxDOT's request for managed lanes on the West Loop and on the inner Katy Freeway.
https://www.h-gac.com/media/hgac/transportation-advisory-committee/meeting-agendas/documents/2021/june/ITEM-07.pdf

TXtoNJ

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 770
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 11:30:52 AM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2021, 01:32:51 PM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

Is the Hempstead Tollway still on the radar, or has that project faded away after the ban on new toll roads?

I believe it was originally planned to be built simultaneously with US 290, to be a system of express lanes on a parallel alignment instead of in the median.

I believe itís dead now. They rebuilt 290 with a separated reversible HOV/Bus lane in the middle and a high occupancy lane going each direction as part of the main lanes.

The Hempstead Tollway is most likely dead, and TxDOT is trying to replace it with 2x2 toll-free managed lanes along the same alignment. The managed lanes are proposed to be elevated inside BW8 to reduce right-of-way requirements. TxDOT is asking H-GAC to modify the long-term plan to include the elevated managed lanes, but as of tomorrow's meeting H-GAC is not including the change. H-GAC is also rejecting TxDOT's request for managed lanes on the West Loop and on the inner Katy Freeway.
https://www.h-gac.com/media/hgac/transportation-advisory-committee/meeting-agendas/documents/2021/june/ITEM-07.pdf

The freeway expansion era is largely over in Houston, it seems. We'll probably see a few projects get finished (if in a reduced state, I don't expect I-45 north of DT to get expanded), but anything on a new ROW (except for SH 35 and everything other than Segment A of the Grand Parkway) is done, and reconstructions will almost certainly be no capacity added.

I think 25 years of PAINFUL reconstructions, along with apparently-limited benefits (even if the actual benefits were fairly good), has shifted the political climate away from expansion anywhere inside Beltway 8.
Logged

Thegeet

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 213
  • Location: Port Lavaca, TX
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 11:45:11 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2021, 02:39:16 PM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

The next proposed projects (outside of what has its own major discussion threads already) would be:

Fort Bend Tollway extension to 610
SH35 Freeway from Houston to Alvin
Southeast Grand Parkway segments

In progress:

Northeast Grand Parkway segments
Tomball/Aggie Expressway extension
Westpark Tollway extension

Hereís a good read on proposed Houston projects:

https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/aede9fcd-17a0-480d-b0fd-a36c0065dbd7/2040-RTP-exec-summary-april-2016.pdf
I saw somewhere that SH 35 will be used up in Alvin by SH 99 Grand Parkway.
Logged

thisdj78

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 261
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Texas
  • Last Login: Today at 12:14:16 AM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2021, 03:20:41 PM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

The next proposed projects (outside of what has its own major discussion threads already) would be:

Fort Bend Tollway extension to 610
SH35 Freeway from Houston to Alvin
Southeast Grand Parkway segments

In progress:

Northeast Grand Parkway segments
Tomball/Aggie Expressway extension
Westpark Tollway extension

Hereís a good read on proposed Houston projects:

https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/aede9fcd-17a0-480d-b0fd-a36c0065dbd7/2040-RTP-exec-summary-april-2016.pdf
I saw somewhere that SH 35 will be used up in Alvin by SH 99 Grand Parkway.

Yes, the two routes will share alignment around Alvin.
Logged

Thegeet

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 213
  • Location: Port Lavaca, TX
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 11:45:11 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2021, 03:49:23 PM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

The next proposed projects (outside of what has its own major discussion threads already) would be:

Fort Bend Tollway extension to 610
SH35 Freeway from Houston to Alvin
Southeast Grand Parkway segments

In progress:

Northeast Grand Parkway segments
Tomball/Aggie Expressway extension
Westpark Tollway extension

Hereís a good read on proposed Houston projects:

https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/aede9fcd-17a0-480d-b0fd-a36c0065dbd7/2040-RTP-exec-summary-april-2016.pdf
I saw somewhere that SH 35 will be used up in Alvin by SH 99 Grand Parkway.

Yes, the two routes will share alignment around Alvin.
Nice. The median is wide enough already to accommodate a freeway, so Alvin would be an easy task, except when diverging from SH 35, which they would need to buy ROW.
Logged

thisdj78

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 261
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Texas
  • Last Login: Today at 12:14:16 AM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2021, 04:58:40 PM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

The next proposed projects (outside of what has its own major discussion threads already) would be:

Fort Bend Tollway extension to 610
SH35 Freeway from Houston to Alvin
Southeast Grand Parkway segments

In progress:

Northeast Grand Parkway segments
Tomball/Aggie Expressway extension
Westpark Tollway extension

Hereís a good read on proposed Houston projects:

https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/aede9fcd-17a0-480d-b0fd-a36c0065dbd7/2040-RTP-exec-summary-april-2016.pdf
I saw somewhere that SH 35 will be used up in Alvin by SH 99 Grand Parkway.

Yes, the two routes will share alignment around Alvin.
Nice. The median is wide enough already to accommodate a freeway, so Alvin would be an easy task, except when diverging from SH 35, which they would need to buy ROW.

Thereís a basic map of the alignments in the link I posted above, Page 2.
Logged

CoreySamson

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1440
  • Buc-ee's Fanboy

  • Age: 18
  • Location: Greater Houston, TX
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 09:30:53 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2021, 05:13:35 PM »


https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/aede9fcd-17a0-480d-b0fd-a36c0065dbd7/2040-RTP-exec-summary-april-2016.pdf
Interesting that it seems HGAC has already given up on building the southeastern Grand Parkway segments until at least 2040, as per the map. Building the Mykawa and Alvin sections of the SH 35 freeway seems feasible, but how is TxDOT going to fit a freeway through downtown Pearland? The ROW isn't exactly there.

The mass transit map is even more exciting. I didn't know Houston actually had two commuter rail lines planned. Nevertheless, I see some glaring holes in that light rail map. Hobby Airport needs to be connected, and I think that there should be a line going all the way out to League City (or even Kemah or Galveston, but that's probably unfeasible). Plus I would extend the southern line all the way to Pearland given all the people who live there who work at the Medical Center.
Logged
Houston-area teenage roadgeek.
Amateur guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist.

My Fictional Interstates thread

bwana39

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 968
  • Location: Near Texarkana TX
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 10:09:54 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2021, 05:23:05 PM »


https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/aede9fcd-17a0-480d-b0fd-a36c0065dbd7/2040-RTP-exec-summary-april-2016.pdf
Interesting that it seems HGAC has already given up on building the southeastern Grand Parkway segments until at least 2040, as per the map. Building the Mykawa and Alvin sections of the SH 35 freeway seems feasible, but how is TxDOT going to fit a freeway through downtown Pearland? The ROW isn't exactly there.

The mass transit map is even more exciting. I didn't know Houston actually had two commuter rail lines planned. Nevertheless, I see some glaring holes in that light rail map. Hobby Airport needs to be connected, and I think that there should be a line going all the way out to League City (or even Kemah or Galveston, but that's probably unfeasible). Plus I would extend the southern line all the way to Pearland given all the people who live there who work at the Medical Center.

You know, light rail used to go to Galveston before the days of cars.

The commuter rail lines are planned subject to funding. Funding for rail is hard to come by. The matching has to come 100% from local sources. The state really doesn't do much with that.
Logged
Let's build what we need as economically as possible.

thisdj78

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 261
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Texas
  • Last Login: Today at 12:14:16 AM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2021, 06:41:37 PM »


https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/aede9fcd-17a0-480d-b0fd-a36c0065dbd7/2040-RTP-exec-summary-april-2016.pdf
Interesting that it seems HGAC has already given up on building the southeastern Grand Parkway segments until at least 2040, as per the map. Building the Mykawa and Alvin sections of the SH 35 freeway seems feasible, but how is TxDOT going to fit a freeway through downtown Pearland? The ROW isn't exactly there.

The route would follow the railroad ROW vs the SH35 route. Therefore, thereís some room to work with. Not much, but itís there. There will still be some property acquisition required but not as much is if they rebuilt SH35 into a freeway through Pearland:

https://goo.gl/maps/YRBLgQJMcDicH8c36
Logged

Thegeet

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 213
  • Location: Port Lavaca, TX
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 11:45:11 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2021, 01:14:12 AM »


https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/aede9fcd-17a0-480d-b0fd-a36c0065dbd7/2040-RTP-exec-summary-april-2016.pdf
Interesting that it seems HGAC has already given up on building the southeastern Grand Parkway segments until at least 2040, as per the map. Building the Mykawa and Alvin sections of the SH 35 freeway seems feasible, but how is TxDOT going to fit a freeway through downtown Pearland? The ROW isn't exactly there.

The mass transit map is even more exciting. I didn't know Houston actually had two commuter rail lines planned. Nevertheless, I see some glaring holes in that light rail map. Hobby Airport needs to be connected, and I think that there should be a line going all the way out to League City (or even Kemah or Galveston, but that's probably unfeasible). Plus I would extend the southern line all the way to Pearland given all the people who live there who work at the Medical Center.
I agree. Itís too bad they donít want to make SH 99 a full continuous loop.
Logged

In_Correct

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 568
  • Safety > Danger ... Road Buffets > Road Diets

  • Location: TX
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 08:35:25 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2021, 02:51:55 AM »

Are they removing the rail line?
Logged
Drive Safely. :sombrero: Ride Safely. And Build More Roads, Rails, And Bridges. :coffee: ... Boulevards Wear Faster Than Interstates.

thisdj78

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 261
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Texas
  • Last Login: Today at 12:14:16 AM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2021, 07:25:15 AM »

Are they removing the rail line?

Sounds like they will keep the rail lines and perhaps run the mainlanes on both sides (similar to Mopac in Austin):

The proposed SH 35 tollway would be constructed as a controlled-access tolled facility with auxiliary lanes between on ramps and off ramps, consisting of varying numbers of main lanes in each direction within a typical 300-foot-wide right-of-way (ROW). Within the ROW, an approximately 50-foot-wide future transit preserve would be reserved.

https://www.pearland.com/msg/sh-35-tollway-project-info.php?p=994055

Logged

CoreySamson

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1440
  • Buc-ee's Fanboy

  • Age: 18
  • Location: Greater Houston, TX
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 09:30:53 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2021, 02:24:49 PM »


https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/aede9fcd-17a0-480d-b0fd-a36c0065dbd7/2040-RTP-exec-summary-april-2016.pdf
Interesting that it seems HGAC has already given up on building the southeastern Grand Parkway segments until at least 2040, as per the map. Building the Mykawa and Alvin sections of the SH 35 freeway seems feasible, but how is TxDOT going to fit a freeway through downtown Pearland? The ROW isn't exactly there.

The mass transit map is even more exciting. I didn't know Houston actually had two commuter rail lines planned. Nevertheless, I see some glaring holes in that light rail map. Hobby Airport needs to be connected, and I think that there should be a line going all the way out to League City (or even Kemah or Galveston, but that's probably unfeasible). Plus I would extend the southern line all the way to Pearland given all the people who live there who work at the Medical Center.
I agree. Itís too bad they donít want to make SH 99 a full continuous loop.
Yeah it is, but I get it. Fitting it through League City, Kemah, and Laporte would be extremely difficult. If money was no object, I would bypass it altogether by building a bridge from near Bayview to where 99 makes that 90 degree turn near Beach City. It would be similar in size and scope to the Sunshine Skyway bridge in Tampa Bay.
Logged
Houston-area teenage roadgeek.
Amateur guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist.

My Fictional Interstates thread

OCGuy81

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1450
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Bend, OR
  • Last Login: November 22, 2021, 11:38:56 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2021, 07:10:36 PM »

What are the plans for the segment of the Grand Parkway from Sugar Land to I-45?  Is that pretty much on hold?
Logged

MaxConcrete

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 805
  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 10:27:21 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2021, 07:53:54 PM »

What are the plans for the segment of the Grand Parkway from Sugar Land to I-45?  Is that pretty much on hold?

The Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority is in the process of defining the alignment and purchasing right of way for the section from IH-69 (US 59) in Sugar Land to the future Fort Bend Parkway. They are also very slowly doing planning work for the Fort Bend Parkway extension which connects to the Grand Parkway.
See items 10 and 11: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Wf_eclrTX2nGJ7pcG8cMqs332d0XYb7T/view

South and east of the Grand Parkway/Fort Bend Parkway intersection, I'm not aware of any activity on Segment C, which extends to SH 288.

Section B is from SH 288 to IH-45. It has strong local support and is probably the next section to have main lane construction activity. (Some feeder road construction is possible in Sugar Land.) However, I don't know what level of activity is in progress at this time.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2021, 08:02:43 PM by MaxConcrete »
Logged

armadillo speedbump

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 67
  • Location: texas
  • Last Login: November 28, 2021, 04:46:46 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2021, 01:38:07 AM »

Galveston and Brazoria counties are in a big hurry to develop areas vulnerable to major hurricane storm surges.  While at the same time arguing that they (and Harris, Chambers counties) couldn't possibly pay for the Ike Dike without mostly Fed/state funding, and a tax on flood zone developments would be hugely unfair.



(If you look closely, that image is only for a Cat 4.)
« Last Edit: June 18, 2021, 01:40:46 AM by armadillo speedbump »
Logged

armadillo speedbump

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 67
  • Location: texas
  • Last Login: November 28, 2021, 04:46:46 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #20 on: June 18, 2021, 02:43:01 AM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

Is the Hempstead Tollway still on the radar, or has that project faded away after the ban on new toll roads?

I believe it was originally planned to be built simultaneously with US 290, to be a system of express lanes on a parallel alignment instead of in the median.

I believe itís dead now. They rebuilt 290 with a separated reversible HOV/Bus lane in the middle and a high occupancy lane going each direction as part of the main lanes.

The Hempstead Tollway is most likely dead, and TxDOT is trying to replace it with 2x2 toll-free managed lanes along the same alignment. The managed lanes are proposed to be elevated inside BW8 to reduce right-of-way requirements. TxDOT is asking H-GAC to modify the long-term plan to include the elevated managed lanes, but as of tomorrow's meeting H-GAC is not including the change. H-GAC is also rejecting TxDOT's request for managed lanes on the West Loop and on the inner Katy Freeway.
https://www.h-gac.com/media/hgac/transportation-advisory-committee/meeting-agendas/documents/2021/june/ITEM-07.pdf

The freeway expansion era is largely over in Houston, it seems. We'll probably see a few projects get finished (if in a reduced state, I don't expect I-45 north of DT to get expanded), but anything on a new ROW (except for SH 35 and everything other than Segment A of the Grand Parkway) is done, and reconstructions will almost certainly be no capacity added.

I think 25 years of PAINFUL reconstructions, along with apparently-limited benefits (even if the actual benefits were fairly good), has shifted the political climate away from expansion anywhere inside Beltway 8.

Disagree, far more than 'limited' benefits.  In the last 21 years only the DFW Combined Statistical Area has had a larger total number of population increase (not percentage) in the US (not even the LA CSA grew as much in raw numbers.)  Harris County would be choking from congestion now if those improvements hadn't been made.  That's like arguing buying new clothes for a kid from age 6 to 18 is of 'limited benefit'.

The mass transit map is even more exciting. I didn't know Houston actually had two commuter rail lines planned. Nevertheless, I see some glaring holes in that light rail map. Hobby Airport needs to be connected, and I think that there should be a line going all the way out to League City (or even Kemah or Galveston, but that's probably unfeasible). Plus I would extend the southern line all the way to Pearland given all the people who live there who work at the Medical Center.

Perhaps the best thing the Houston transit agency has done was use HOT/HOV lanes to build out a bus network for longer distance commuters.  More cost effective and extensive in the short term.

However, their commuter rail planning has been pretty much a joke.  It seems pretty clear that for much of the last couple of decades they internally viewed a commuter rail network as a threat to their precious light-rail plans.  There's only so much money to go around, and nowhere near enough to build their, and the city council's provincial LRT wish lists, before even a penny could be committed to commuter rail.  Cost, control, and politics results in just a few planned commuter rail lines (there's potential for a pretty extensive network) and ending them at outer LRT/busway transit hubs instead of providing a 1-seat ride all the way to downtown.

Don't get me wrong, LRT is important and a good way to increase and properly serve denser development inside the loop.  But a huge problem is that to stretch lines into so many councilmembers pet districts, they had to somewhat design and build on the cheap.  Thus a lot of very slow running that makes it take too long once you try and use it from very far outside the loop.  It takes 30 minutes to ride less than 7 miles from the 610 south parking lots to downtown.  Hence the wisdom of feeding the central core of LRT with suburban commuter bus lines, even though it requires a transfer (though an extensive LRT network would still require lots of transfers, that's unavoidable in a multi-hub network.)

Complicating matters is that after the South Main line they've focused more on putting LRT in councilmembers pet districts over serving major job hubs beyond downtown and the Med Ctr, like the Galleria area.  The ridership numbers would be higher, if accurately estimated (transit agencies are great about manipulating the estimates to show what they and their political masters want.  To the point of flat out lying, dig down and look at the assumptions they make in creating their estimates.)  But of course the race card is always ready to be played, so we got certain favored mostly residential (and to be fair, some dense redevelopment potential) neighborhoods served instead.

I went to a Metro meeting about their mid and long range transit plan they were pushing at the time (right after they told TXDOT that they wanted their portion of the Katy Fwy rebuild to be bus HOT only, no LRT or commuter rail.
 So yeah, long ago.)  They flat out lied to the audience, telling them what they wanted to hear.  That the proposed LRT line from downtown to Intercontinental Airport using surface streets would be super fast because it would be elevated the entire way and would be one of the first in line and funding shouldn't be a hindrance.  Ha!  They knew they could never afford elevated along the entire route, they knew the cost/rider wouldn't meet the fed requirements at the time for project eligibility, and they knew that any airport line, if routed up surface streets, would be a phased buildout because of distance.  And they knew their time estimates were just bait and switch unachievable for such a routing.

But on the flip side, when asked why they weren't proposing in early or mid  phases commuter rail to downtown on the existing rail corridor towards Galveston, it was one reason after another why it just wasn't feasible.  Too expensive because it required 3 grade separations over major freight lines.  True, yet a starter single track, off the shelf, diesel commuter rail line built in that freight RR ROW to Clear Lake City would still be much cheaper than dual electrified LRT tracks built into street ROW, and the more complex grade separations that parallel LRT line just to Harrisburg would require.

Again, I think their ultimate choice of suburban HOT bus feeding central LRT was mostly the right choice.  I was just disgusted at the pandering and widespread dishonesty I've seen for years out of Metro, and their jealous provincialism.  They should have preserved corridor in the planned I-45 reroute and reroute of the downtown freight line, so as to serve a future commuter rail hub station at either the Post Office site or the bus barns on the east side of the UH-Downtown LRT station.  Either site could be connected to the downtown tunnel system with enclosed walkways and perhaps moving sidewalks, which would allow many commuters to walk the last segment to their jobs no matter how hot or rainy it gets.  That would encourage some conversion from car commutes, and reduce overloading of the Main Street LRT line.  But instead they've always gone with the further away future Burnett hub station, which every plan I've seen is would not have the footprint to handle enough tracks for a full CR network and possible intercity/HSR network.  Short-sighted. 

Commuter rail is complex, and probably not yet ripe for development in Houston.  You have to work out agreements with the freight railroad owners, and that is not guaranteed.  Union Pacific RR killed off the proposed SA-Austin commuter rail line that wanted to share its ROW.  Though perhaps the time is right for Congress to finally take on the freight RR monopoly/duopoly and reduce some of their leverage.  But that would require Congress to go some big donors to their campaigns.

So bottom line, unless Harris County and Houston have a big change in preferences, a CR network will be a missed future opportunity that will likely never happen.  DFW, Miami-Ft.L-Palm Beach, Austin-SA, Denver, Salt Lake City, DC, and Seattle have all figured out how to properly plan for an integrated network of bus, LRT, and CR where appropriate.  Houston?  Doesn't seem like they'll ever learn.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2021, 02:52:41 AM by armadillo speedbump »
Logged

Chris

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2405
  • International road enthusiast

  • Age: 34
  • Location: the Netherlands
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 02:47:54 PM
    • Flickr
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2021, 06:48:39 AM »

Houston is not nearly as badly congested as many people think it is. It ranked #224 in the world in the 2019 TomTom Congestion Index, which is a very low position for a metropolitan area of this size and with a huge population growth.

https://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/traffic-index/ranking/

TXtoNJ

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 770
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 11:30:52 AM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2021, 11:30:01 AM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

Is the Hempstead Tollway still on the radar, or has that project faded away after the ban on new toll roads?

I believe it was originally planned to be built simultaneously with US 290, to be a system of express lanes on a parallel alignment instead of in the median.

I believe itís dead now. They rebuilt 290 with a separated reversible HOV/Bus lane in the middle and a high occupancy lane going each direction as part of the main lanes.

The Hempstead Tollway is most likely dead, and TxDOT is trying to replace it with 2x2 toll-free managed lanes along the same alignment. The managed lanes are proposed to be elevated inside BW8 to reduce right-of-way requirements. TxDOT is asking H-GAC to modify the long-term plan to include the elevated managed lanes, but as of tomorrow's meeting H-GAC is not including the change. H-GAC is also rejecting TxDOT's request for managed lanes on the West Loop and on the inner Katy Freeway.
https://www.h-gac.com/media/hgac/transportation-advisory-committee/meeting-agendas/documents/2021/june/ITEM-07.pdf

The freeway expansion era is largely over in Houston, it seems. We'll probably see a few projects get finished (if in a reduced state, I don't expect I-45 north of DT to get expanded), but anything on a new ROW (except for SH 35 and everything other than Segment A of the Grand Parkway) is done, and reconstructions will almost certainly be no capacity added.

I think 25 years of PAINFUL reconstructions, along with apparently-limited benefits (even if the actual benefits were fairly good), has shifted the political climate away from expansion anywhere inside Beltway 8.

Disagree, far more than 'limited' benefits.  In the last 21 years only the DFW Combined Statistical Area has had a larger total number of population increase (not percentage) in the US (not even the LA CSA grew as much in raw numbers.)  Harris County would be choking from congestion now if those improvements hadn't been made.  That's like arguing buying new clothes for a kid from age 6 to 18 is of 'limited benefit'.

Did you miss both the "apparently" and the "(even if the actual benefits were pretty good)" parts?

The problem isn't what came out of the construction, it's that the construction was as bad as it was (partially due to TxDOT practices in the Houston area that they show absolutely no signs of willingness to reconsider), and there are still traffic jams. You can shout until you're blue in the face that it's because of growth, but people don't necessarily want to hear it.
Logged

Bobby5280

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2735
  • Location: Lawton, OK
  • Last Login: Today at 01:03:29 AM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2021, 01:29:08 PM »

The metro Houston area has grown a great deal. That is a primary source of traffic congestion.

But another source of traffic snarls is due to the outdated design of Houston's surface street grid. There are virtually no filtering mechanisms designed in the surface street systems within the I-610 loop. It's a free for all of intersections and driveways emptying out directly into every major surface arterial. And then there's lots and lots and lots of traffic lights. In Houston it's possible for surface street traffic grid-lock to end up overflowing onto the freeway exit ramps and then the freeways themselves.

Going far enough out from the city core, near Loop 8 and beyond, there are newer neighborhoods and developments where more thought was put into street design. Look at a wealthy area, like The Woodlands, and you'll see surface arterials done right. There are very few intersections and a very limited number of driveways. The neighborhood and retail developments have their own self-contained street grids with only a limited number of outlets onto the main roads. That can help control the amount of traffic flow going to something nearby like a freeway. This kind of approach with surface street design combined with ample freeway capacity can make traffic less of a headache. The design philosophy isn't perfect though. Major retail developments are traffic magnets unto themselves. And when they're right next to a freeway problems can happen anyway.

At any rate, one thing that needs to happen in Houston within the I-610 loop is a big overhaul of surface streets.
Logged

longhorn

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 380
  • Last Login: December 02, 2021, 12:05:43 PM
Re: General Houston-area projects thread
« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2021, 09:47:46 PM »

290 is pretty much finished now.

Is the Hempstead Tollway still on the radar, or has that project faded away after the ban on new toll roads?

I believe it was originally planned to be built simultaneously with US 290, to be a system of express lanes on a parallel alignment instead of in the median.

I believe itís dead now. They rebuilt 290 with a separated reversible HOV/Bus lane in the middle and a high occupancy lane going each direction as part of the main lanes.

The Hempstead Tollway is most likely dead, and TxDOT is trying to replace it with 2x2 toll-free managed lanes along the same alignment. The managed lanes are proposed to be elevated inside BW8 to reduce right-of-way requirements. TxDOT is asking H-GAC to modify the long-term plan to include the elevated managed lanes, but as of tomorrow's meeting H-GAC is not including the change. H-GAC is also rejecting TxDOT's request for managed lanes on the West Loop and on the inner Katy Freeway.
https://www.h-gac.com/media/hgac/transportation-advisory-committee/meeting-agendas/documents/2021/june/ITEM-07.pdf

The freeway expansion era is largely over in Houston, it seems. We'll probably see a few projects get finished (if in a reduced state, I don't expect I-45 north of DT to get expanded), but anything on a new ROW (except for SH 35 and everything other than Segment A of the Grand Parkway) is done, and reconstructions will almost certainly be no capacity added.

I think 25 years of PAINFUL reconstructions, along with apparently-limited benefits (even if the actual benefits were fairly good), has shifted the political climate away from expansion anywhere inside Beltway 8.

Disagree, far more than 'limited' benefits.  In the last 21 years only the DFW Combined Statistical Area has had a larger total number of population increase (not percentage) in the US (not even the LA CSA grew as much in raw numbers.)  Harris County would be choking from congestion now if those improvements hadn't been made.  That's like arguing buying new clothes for a kid from age 6 to 18 is of 'limited benefit'.

The mass transit map is even more exciting. I didn't know Houston actually had two commuter rail lines planned. Nevertheless, I see some glaring holes in that light rail map. Hobby Airport needs to be connected, and I think that there should be a line going all the way out to League City (or even Kemah or Galveston, but that's probably unfeasible). Plus I would extend the southern line all the way to Pearland given all the people who live there who work at the Medical Center.

Perhaps the best thing the Houston transit agency has done was use HOT/HOV lanes to build out a bus network for longer distance commuters.  More cost effective and extensive in the short term.

However, their commuter rail planning has been pretty much a joke.  It seems pretty clear that for much of the last couple of decades they internally viewed a commuter rail network as a threat to their precious light-rail plans.  There's only so much money to go around, and nowhere near enough to build their, and the city council's provincial LRT wish lists, before even a penny could be committed to commuter rail.  Cost, control, and politics results in just a few planned commuter rail lines (there's potential for a pretty extensive network) and ending them at outer LRT/busway transit hubs instead of providing a 1-seat ride all the way to downtown.

Don't get me wrong, LRT is important and a good way to increase and properly serve denser development inside the loop.  But a huge problem is that to stretch lines into so many councilmembers pet districts, they had to somewhat design and build on the cheap.  Thus a lot of very slow running that makes it take too long once you try and use it from very far outside the loop.  It takes 30 minutes to ride less than 7 miles from the 610 south parking lots to downtown.  Hence the wisdom of feeding the central core of LRT with suburban commuter bus lines, even though it requires a transfer (though an extensive LRT network would still require lots of transfers, that's unavoidable in a multi-hub network.)

Complicating matters is that after the South Main line they've focused more on putting LRT in councilmembers pet districts over serving major job hubs beyond downtown and the Med Ctr, like the Galleria area.  The ridership numbers would be higher, if accurately estimated (transit agencies are great about manipulating the estimates to show what they and their political masters want.  To the point of flat out lying, dig down and look at the assumptions they make in creating their estimates.)  But of course the race card is always ready to be played, so we got certain favored mostly residential (and to be fair, some dense redevelopment potential) neighborhoods served instead.

I went to a Metro meeting about their mid and long range transit plan they were pushing at the time (right after they told TXDOT that they wanted their portion of the Katy Fwy rebuild to be bus HOT only, no LRT or commuter rail.
 So yeah, long ago.)  They flat out lied to the audience, telling them what they wanted to hear.  That the proposed LRT line from downtown to Intercontinental Airport using surface streets would be super fast because it would be elevated the entire way and would be one of the first in line and funding shouldn't be a hindrance.  Ha!  They knew they could never afford elevated along the entire route, they knew the cost/rider wouldn't meet the fed requirements at the time for project eligibility, and they knew that any airport line, if routed up surface streets, would be a phased buildout because of distance.  And they knew their time estimates were just bait and switch unachievable for such a routing.

But on the flip side, when asked why they weren't proposing in early or mid  phases commuter rail to downtown on the existing rail corridor towards Galveston, it was one reason after another why it just wasn't feasible.  Too expensive because it required 3 grade separations over major freight lines.  True, yet a starter single track, off the shelf, diesel commuter rail line built in that freight RR ROW to Clear Lake City would still be much cheaper than dual electrified LRT tracks built into street ROW, and the more complex grade separations that parallel LRT line just to Harrisburg would require.

Again, I think their ultimate choice of suburban HOT bus feeding central LRT was mostly the right choice.  I was just disgusted at the pandering and widespread dishonesty I've seen for years out of Metro, and their jealous provincialism.  They should have preserved corridor in the planned I-45 reroute and reroute of the downtown freight line, so as to serve a future commuter rail hub station at either the Post Office site or the bus barns on the east side of the UH-Downtown LRT station.  Either site could be connected to the downtown tunnel system with enclosed walkways and perhaps moving sidewalks, which would allow many commuters to walk the last segment to their jobs no matter how hot or rainy it gets.  That would encourage some conversion from car commutes, and reduce overloading of the Main Street LRT line.  But instead they've always gone with the further away future Burnett hub station, which every plan I've seen is would not have the footprint to handle enough tracks for a full CR network and possible intercity/HSR network.  Short-sighted. 

Commuter rail is complex, and probably not yet ripe for development in Houston.  You have to work out agreements with the freight railroad owners, and that is not guaranteed.  Union Pacific RR killed off the proposed SA-Austin commuter rail line that wanted to share its ROW.  Though perhaps the time is right for Congress to finally take on the freight RR monopoly/duopoly and reduce some of their leverage.  But that would require Congress to go some big donors to their campaigns.

So bottom line, unless Harris County and Houston have a big change in preferences, a CR network will be a missed future opportunity that will likely never happen.  DFW, Miami-Ft.L-Palm Beach, Austin-SA, Denver, Salt Lake City, DC, and Seattle have all figured out how to properly plan for an integrated network of bus, LRT, and CR where appropriate.  Houston?  Doesn't seem like they'll ever learn.

What Houston needs mass transit wise is a Metro like Washington DC's limited spokes, everyone connecting in the center, like their HOT bus system. It would move more people and real estate developers will make money building near the stations, just as they do now in DC. If you want a Metro system go big but simple, not a single LRT line and think its progress.
Logged

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.