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Author Topic: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status  (Read 16783 times)

bwana39

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #25 on: September 11, 2021, 01:05:43 PM »

The only way to stop the NHHP north of I-10 is to have a viable alternate route (or total gridlock). Hardy can be that alternate route IF it has increased access. The current access to I-610 is far from optimal due to congestion.

If I-45 is indeed rerouted around the east side of downtown Houston, an extended Hardy Toll Road would access I-45 on both ends.  Hardy extension should be a win-win situation. (Even if they don't do the I-45 reroute.)
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #26 on: October 01, 2021, 06:22:32 PM »

A consultant is being solicited for the downtown extension.

https://harriscountytx.bonfirehub.com/opportunities/51520

Quote
21/0311 - RFSQ - Professional Architectural and/or Engineering Services for the Planning and Conceptual Design Process for Phase II of the Hardy Toll Road Downtown Connector Project for the Harris County Toll Road Authority

The objective of this contract is not clear to me. My perception is that this will be a public input process which could be used to change the design from a toll road to something else. But I really don't know. We'll find out eventually if/when public meetings are scheduled.

bwana39

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #27 on: October 01, 2021, 11:11:30 PM »

A consultant is being solicited for the downtown extension.

https://harriscountytx.bonfirehub.com/opportunities/51520

Quote
21/0311 - RFSQ - Professional Architectural and/or Engineering Services for the Planning and Conceptual Design Process for Phase II of the Hardy Toll Road Downtown Connector Project for the Harris County Toll Road Authority

The objective of this contract is not clear to me. My perception is that this will be a public input process which could be used to change the design from a toll road to something else. But I really don't know. We'll find out eventually if/when public meetings are scheduled.

I know you are more boots on the ground in Houston, BUT They are (taking bids for the) hiring (of) consultants. This appears to draw plans to build road. I think if it were a non-tolled roadway, that the primary agent would be TXDOT, Harris County,  or the City of Houston. While HCTRA is an integral part of Harris County government, it is technically a separately operating unit.  This looks like they are continuing the tollway construction to I-10. I hope I am right and you are wrong, but in today's political quagmire who knows. (as to hoping I am right, it is just I hope they are not building some sort of surface streets so that developers can buy up the surplus land and develop it.
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #28 on: October 01, 2021, 11:34:59 PM »

Please let this just be an extension of the freeway toll road and not an at grade boulevard. I mean something would be better than nothing but a direct connection to downtown from Hardy TR is needed.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #29 on: October 02, 2021, 12:20:15 AM »

Please let this just be an extension of the freeway toll road and not an at grade boulevard. I mean something would be better than nothing but a direct connection to downtown from Hardy TR is needed.

I agree, I hope this is for actual design of long-planned (20+ years) extension. But my perception was that the project was ready to proceed to construction before it was suspended (based on the original schedule on the official web site), which suggested to me that the design was already complete. Notice the words "Planning" and especially "Conceptual Design Process" in the solicitation. This suggests to me that this could be a process to get input from the "community" which will mainly be the same folks who oppose NHHIP, and that input could result in a new design such as a boulevard that anti-freeway folks seem to fixate about. Based on the current political climate on Harris County Commissioners Court, this is a very plausible.

As I mentioned, I'm not in a position to know anything more than the solicitation description, so I'll continue to monitor developments about the project and of course post any news in this thread.

Plutonic Panda

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #30 on: October 02, 2021, 01:41:31 AM »

Well, if it ends up being an at grade boulevard I’ll be disappointed but I’ll still be more likely to use it then I-45. I wonder if they went they went that route if they’d be more open to an expressway/parkway type setup with minimal curb cuts, grade separated interchanges arterial roads, etc.
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bwana39

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #31 on: October 02, 2021, 01:54:33 AM »

The people who have received the bid packets so far are an environmental testing and remediation firm, a plans aggregator, a heavy road building contractor / engineering firm who primarily builds freeways, a demolition contractor (who also does environmental remediation work ), and the elephant in the room; the foremost engineering firm for designing neighborhood friendly streets and roadways.

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Bobby5280

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #32 on: October 02, 2021, 03:28:46 PM »

If Hardy Toll Road extension to downtown is reduced to a mere at-grade boulevard they might as well not build anything at all. An at-grade boulevard would just be a waste of money. It would do zero to improve the flow of traffic.
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #33 on: October 02, 2021, 04:56:08 PM »

If Hardy Toll Road extension to downtown is reduced to a mere at-grade boulevard they might as well not build anything at all. An at-grade boulevard would just be a waste of money. It would do zero to improve the flow of traffic.
I disagree. As stupid as I think the idea of reducing this to an at grade boulevard is, it would still serve a purpose moving through traffic to downtown Houston rather than that traffic having to use existing routes that are already congested.

Now if this becomes a boulevard with bike lanes, too many traffic lights/roundabouts, and low speed limits then yes it’ll be a waste of money. But an at grade boulevard with maybe two roundabouts at Quitman and Cavalcade streets with the rest of the access being RIRO with a 50 MPH speed limit I’d settle for that.

Of course the freeway option will always be better and I hope they go with that. We’ll see.
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Bobby5280

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #34 on: October 03, 2021, 01:47:48 AM »

But that's just it. An at-grade boulevard in that location WILL be pigged-out with traffic signals. There's too many at-grade crossing streets. It's not enough to limit them to RIRO access. The access for most of those secondary streets needs to be cut-off completely. The same goes for driveways and parking lot entrances. Considering the area, even if this route was not made into a full blown freeway they would still need to keep grade separations for some intersections on the table.
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rte66man

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #35 on: October 03, 2021, 05:14:04 PM »

If a boulevard is chosen, it seems like they could get more bang for their buck by expanding Elysian and using the new viaduct to access downtown.
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #36 on: October 04, 2021, 09:29:14 PM »

I hope they do build the southern extension as a toll road, not as a boulevard. On another note, is there anything to report on a potential northern extension of the Hardy Toll Road? I heard there were studies about extending it northward all the way to Loop 336, although I doubt it will be built anytime soon.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #37 on: January 07, 2022, 11:13:56 PM »

A consultant is being solicited for the downtown extension.
https://harriscountytx.bonfirehub.com/opportunities/51520
Quote
21/0311 - RFSQ - Professional Architectural and/or Engineering Services for the Planning and Conceptual Design Process for Phase II of the Hardy Toll Road Downtown Connector Project for the Harris County Toll Road Authority
The objective of this contract is not clear to me. My perception is that this will be a public input process which could be used to change the design from a toll road to something else. But I really don't know. We'll find out eventually if/when public meetings are scheduled.

An agenda item for this week's Commissioners Court meeting says the proposals were rejected and the item will be readvertised in the future. I have no idea about the reason. There is no indication about the timing of "a later date", if this is a short-term or long-term delay.
https://harriscountytx.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=907420&GUID=BF7BAEEF-453C-4664-B13F-972E91FB622B

"Request for approval to reject the responses received for professional
architectural and/or engineering services for the planning and conceptual
design process for Phase II of the Hardy Toll Road Downtown Connector
Project for the Toll Road Authority, and that the project be readvertised at a
later date with revised specifications (210311)."


I also checked the project web site and discovered it has been updated. The schedule shows the "Re-imagine Hardy" study from April 2022 to March 2023, with downtown connector construction from April 2023 to April 2026. However, I'm thinking that schedule is no longer valid.
https://www.hctra.org/HardyDowntownConnector

« Last Edit: January 08, 2022, 10:09:30 AM by MaxConcrete »
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #38 on: September 30, 2022, 01:31:20 PM »

This appears in the agenda for this week's meeting of Harris County Commissioners Court

Quote
Request for approval to execute an Agreement with Asakura Robinson
Company, LLC to provide landscape architectural, engineering, and or
planning services related to the Hardy Toll Road Downtown Connector
project in Harris County, Texas in the amount of $784,201.02 (Precincts 1
and 2). MWDBE Contracted Goal: 78%.

I read this statement to apply to landscaping only. $784k sounds about right for landscape plan specification. It's certainly not enough for a complete redesign. This may not be the only contract relating to Hardy, so we really cannot reach any firm conclusion about the project future with this limited information.

However, other recently-published documents suggest the project is moving forward as originally planned as a toll road. Both the annual report and HB 803 report (https://www.hctra.org/Reports) say the extension is a future project, with no mention of changing its scope, and the HB 803 document lists $228 million in expenditures in 2023-2026, which is about what I expect for the main lanes. (Work on cross streets has been in progress for years.)

New direct connection ramps at the Hardy Toll Road and Beltway 8, listed at $140 million, is a higher-priority project and will probably start first since the HCTRA project info says construction will start in 2023.

Great Lakes Roads

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #39 on: September 30, 2022, 03:00:50 PM »

This appears in the agenda for this week's meeting of Harris County Commissioners Court

Quote
Request for approval to execute an Agreement with Asakura Robinson
Company, LLC to provide landscape architectural, engineering, and or
planning services related to the Hardy Toll Road Downtown Connector
project in Harris County, Texas in the amount of $784,201.02 (Precincts 1
and 2). MWDBE Contracted Goal: 78%.

I read this statement to apply to landscaping only. $784k sounds about right for landscape plan specification. It's certainly not enough for a complete redesign. This may not be the only contract relating to Hardy, so we really cannot reach any firm conclusion about the project future with this limited information.

However, other recently-published documents suggest the project is moving forward as originally planned as a toll road. Both the annual report and HB 803 report (https://www.hctra.org/Reports) say the extension is a future project, with no mention of changing its scope, and the HB 803 document lists $228 million in expenditures in 2023-2026, which is about what I expect for the main lanes. (Work on cross streets has been in progress for years.)

New direct connection ramps at the Hardy Toll Road and Beltway 8, listed at $140 million, is a higher-priority project and will probably start first since the HCTRA project info says construction will start in 2023.

HCTRA has also this on the Sam Houston Tollway at SH 225 interchange:
"Final design has begun and construction is expected to begin in summer of 2023."
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #40 on: December 14, 2022, 11:32:32 PM »

The following appears in the agenda for Friday's H-GAC meeting: https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/bc1a3b39-3e45-43d9-90f0-6b96a01033a3/December-16-2022-Transportation-Policy-Council-Item-9A

"Delay the Harris County Toll Road Authority Hardy Toll Road construction project (MPO ID 15208) from FY 2023 to FY 2024 due to readiness issues. (Total Cost: $250.0M)"

This is probably just a technical correction to the official plan since I don't think it was actually expected to proceed this fiscal year, which is already in its third month. I suppose the good news is that the delay is just one year. But given the history of the project,  I don't think we can be confident it will actually proceed in FY 2024.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2022, 11:47:27 PM by MaxConcrete »
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rte66man

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #41 on: December 17, 2022, 09:46:36 AM »

The following appears in the agenda for Friday's H-GAC meeting: https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/bc1a3b39-3e45-43d9-90f0-6b96a01033a3/December-16-2022-Transportation-Policy-Council-Item-9A

"Delay the Harris County Toll Road Authority Hardy Toll Road construction project (MPO ID 15208) from FY 2023 to FY 2024 due to readiness issues. (Total Cost: $250.0M)" (emphasis added)

This is probably just a technical correction to the official plan since I don't think it was actually expected to proceed this fiscal year, which is already in its third month. I suppose the good news is that the delay is just one year. But given the history of the project,  I don't think we can be confident it will actually proceed in FY 2024.

I don't believe they can build the southern extension for a mere $250 million.
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armadillo speedbump

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #42 on: December 17, 2022, 05:19:09 PM »

I see the prelim design mapped on the link above showed the new Elysian viaduct with 3 lanes each way.  Unfortunately it has been built with 2 lanes each way.  I guess you could add a 3rd if you eliminated the safety shoulders and narrowed to 11' lanes, but I'm guessing that won't happen.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #43 on: January 12, 2023, 11:04:00 PM »

The Houston Chronicle reported on NHHIP today, and the quoted text below is from the article on the subject of the Hardy Toll Road extension.
https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/transportation/article/i45-widening-deal-txdot-steps-17711664.php?utm_campaign=CMS%20Sharing%20Tools%20(Premium)&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral

I'm not sure how to interpret the statement. It sounds like they still plan to move forward, but the impact of community involvement is unclear, and the timing to start work is unclear.

Quote
“The expectation of project delivery in Harris County has been elevated,” said Roberto Trevino, executive director of the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

The delayed Hardy Toll Road downtown connector is one example, Trevino said. The project, shelved by Harris County officials as they watched the I-45 debate intensify, first aimed at construction in 2020. Trevino and others have spent the past year talking to neighborhood groups along the route — mostly a straight line along Hardy and Elysian through the North Side that skirts Fifth Ward — so they feel the project improves their neighborhoods as opposed to just coming through it.

“We are incorporating some of that into the downtown connector design,” Trevino said of the discussions, which likely will lead to other meetings this spring. “When we put something on the board, we can say we had community input, that it is connecting the community and complimenting the community. Everyone gets the win.”

Bobby5280

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #44 on: January 13, 2023, 10:56:05 AM »

It sounds like they're still in "revision hell" with the design concepts -basically trying to make everyone happy.

Quote from: armadillo speedbump
I see the prelim design mapped on the link above showed the new Elysian viaduct with 3 lanes each way.  Unfortunately it has been built with 2 lanes each way.  I guess you could add a 3rd if you eliminated the safety shoulders and narrowed to 11' lanes, but I'm guessing that won't happen.

11' wide lanes really suck. I get why traffic engineers are stuck in the no-win situation of having to use them in certain cases (budget limits and geometry limits hammering against the wants of lawmakers and other interests). Any widespread use of 11' wide lanes runs counter against the reality of American driving. We like big vehicles. Full size pickup trucks and SUVs remain very popular. Unless there is some gigantic cultural shift where we gravitate to driving little tiny econo-box cars those skinny lanes aren't going to be any good.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #45 on: January 13, 2023, 11:15:26 PM »

It sounds like they're still in "revision hell" with the design concepts -basically trying to make everyone happy.

Quote from: armadillo speedbump
I see the prelim design mapped on the link above showed the new Elysian viaduct with 3 lanes each way.  Unfortunately it has been built with 2 lanes each way.  I guess you could add a 3rd if you eliminated the safety shoulders and narrowed to 11' lanes, but I'm guessing that won't happen.

11' wide lanes really suck. I get why traffic engineers are stuck in the no-win situation of having to use them in certain cases (budget limits and geometry limits hammering against the wants of lawmakers and other interests). Any widespread use of 11' wide lanes runs counter against the reality of American driving. We like big vehicles. Full size pickup trucks and SUVs remain very popular. Unless there is some gigantic cultural shift where we gravitate to driving little tiny econo-box cars those skinny lanes aren't going to be any good.

The Hardy downtown connector will have two lanes each way. Of those two lanes, one will connect into the Elysian viaduct (you can see the stubouts in Google maps) and the other lane will connect into I-69. I don't foresee a need to have 3x3 on the Elysian viaduct. The recently-opened viaduct is built to high standards and is very roomy, with half inner shoulder, 12-foot-wide lanes and full outer shoulder. Remember, it is not a freeway or even a highway, it's just a city street. So I don't anticipate the high standards will need to be compromised.

Bobby5280

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #46 on: January 14, 2023, 09:37:19 PM »

It looks like all the other connecting surface streets to the Elysian Viaduct are no more than 2 lanes in each direction. That seems like another good reason to make the viaduct a 4 lane facility than one with 6 possibly skinny lanes.
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