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Author Topic: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (project partially halted by FHWA)  (Read 100329 times)

MaxConcrete

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UPDATE: the City of Houston has blocked demolition by withholding needed permits
https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Houston-to-delay-demolition-of-apartments-near-17258539.php?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=HC_AfternoonReport&utm_term=news&utm_content=headlines&sid=5b02328c2ddf9c12eaed3685

More trouble....

The demolition contractor is about to begin demolition of the 375-unit Lofts at the Ballpark, which is not public housing. The demolition contractor has secured the site and moved equipment into position. Now Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is trying to stop the demolition. She's trying to get FHWA to stop it, but if that doesn't work I expect the opposition to seek a court order.

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Plan-to-demolish-apartments-near-Minute-Maid-Park-17255957.php

https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2022/06/21/sheila-jackson-lee-lofts-at-the-ballpark-txdot-i45.html

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U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is questioning the legality of an effort by the Texas Department of Transportation to demolish a three-building apartment complex near Minute Maid Park to make way for the planned expansion of Interstate 45, adding weight to a protest effort led by community activists.

During a June 21 press conference, Lee said the demolition of the 375-unit Lofts at the Ballpark complex at 601 St. Emanuel St. would disproportionately affect minority communities while the I-45 expansion project is currently on pause. Last year, the Federal Highway Administration ordered the I-45 expansion project, dubbed the North Houston Highway Improvement Project, to hold off on construction while the federal agency investigates whether Black and Hispanic communities will be disproportionately affected by the construction.

TxDOT acquired the Lofts at the Ballpark complex in June 2021 and quickly began working to relocate the residents living there. TxDOT said all of the residents had been moved out of the complex as of May 2022. Those who were forced to move received relocation assistance.




« Last Edit: June 22, 2022, 04:31:03 PM by MaxConcrete »
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armadillo speedbump

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So no one lives there, they've all been relocated since TXDOT bought the building, yet SJL is claiming tearing down an empty building that no longer can be rented out will somehow disproportionally affect the minority community.

Par for her extremely corrupt course.
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kernals12

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FHWA has already allowed ROW clearance for that part of the project. This is pure grandstanding.
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bwana39

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FHWA has already allowed ROW clearance for that part of the project. This is pure grandstanding.

Yeah BUT.... The place we are in right now begs the question of the construction EVER being done.  I think she is off base, but using it as low-income housing until there is actually a FIRM decision of whether the modified freeway is ever going to be built or how is not necessarily a wrong way to think.

The ROW for FM2348 in near Mount Pleasant (north of the UPRR) was purchased (some through imminent  domain) and cleared based on the portion of road north of US-67 being aligned to fit the FM 1001 /I-30 overpass. Instead the intersection wound up being routed to meet the existing FM1001 / US-67 intersection. And the existing portion of FM1001 between US-67 and I-30 remaining unchanged.

The Convenience store immediately south of the I-30 intersection was bought and torn down. Since the reroute failed to materialize, the ROW south of US-67 has been sold and a business has built a building on part of it.  A new truck stop / convenience store is now sitting on the same location as previously. The government (it this case Titus County) bought the properties and went to the expense of demolition and clearing then sold them to others for a significant loss, not counting the demolition expenses.

This is not as clear cut as we would seem to suggest. We may, indeed, be getting the cart before the horse.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2022, 12:44:20 PM by bwana39 »
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Henry

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I think Houston is making a big mistake with its threat to cancel the I-45 project. All the buildings either have been or will be torn down, so this is going to be a waste of money if the construction doesn't proceed. Also, why reroute it around the east side of downtown when the elevated section could've been rebuilt for much less?
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MaxConcrete

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I think Houston is making a big mistake with its threat to cancel the I-45 project. All the buildings either have been or will be torn down, so this is going to be a waste of money if the construction doesn't proceed. Also, why reroute it around the east side of downtown when the elevated section could've been rebuilt for much less?

My interpretation of TxDOT's proceeding with the demolition is that the downtown part of NHHIP is expected to proceed. Of course, TxDOT is privy to the state of negotiations with FHWA.

Sure, it would have been far less expensive to leave the downtown freeways as-is and just do maintenance for many decades into the future. But NHHIP is a grand compromise plan. Downtown interests wanted the I-69 elevated structures removed (i.e. sunk below ground), and the Pierce Elevated removed entirely. TxDOT wanted to relieve bottlenecks, and rebuild I-45 north of downtown as part  of the plan. So the NHHIP plan gives downtown interests what they want, and TxDOT gets what it wants. The plan is very expensive and that's the downside for TxDOT. The plan requires right-of-way clearance, but now the interests which stand to receive benefits don't want to incur any of the negatives.

bwana39

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I think Houston is making a big mistake with its threat to cancel the I-45 project. All the buildings either have been or will be torn down, so this is going to be a waste of money if the construction doesn't proceed. Also, why reroute it around the east side of downtown when the elevated section could've been rebuilt for much less?

A vocal minority (not necessarily members of minority groups) got the ears of Secretary Buttigieg and President Biden and had the project re-examined. I really am not sure what the governmental and neo-governmental planning agencies think. The bottom line is TxDOT is proceeding as if section 3 is going to be built as planned.

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Also, why reroute it around the east side of downtown when the elevated section could've been rebuilt for much less?
It is specifically what the vocal downtown interests wanted. TxDOT said in not exactly a private manner when new problems started cropping up after the plan seemed to be firmly in place that TxDOT gave them what they wanted (rerouting around the Pierce Elevated) and still it was not enough. TxDOT wanted to just rebuild the freeway in the same place. It was the locals (the same ilk as those wanting rid of the previously invisible I-345 in Dallas ) who just short of demanded it.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2022, 01:37:59 PM by bwana39 »
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Plutonic Panda

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I think Houston is making a big mistake with its threat to cancel the I-45 project. All the buildings either have been or will be torn down, so this is going to be a waste of money if the construction doesn't proceed. Also, why reroute it around the east side of downtown when the elevated section could've been rebuilt for much less?

My interpretation of TxDOT's proceeding with the demolition is that the downtown part of NHHIP is expected to proceed. Of course, TxDOT is privy to the state of negotiations with FHWA.

Sure, it would have been far less expensive to leave the downtown freeways as-is and just do maintenance for many decades into the future. But NHHIP is a grand compromise plan. Downtown interests wanted the I-69 elevated structures removed (i.e. sunk below ground), and the Pierce Elevated removed entirely. TxDOT wanted to relieve bottlenecks, and rebuild I-45 north of downtown as part  of the plan. So the NHHIP plan gives downtown interests what they want, and TxDOT gets what it wants. The plan is very expensive and that's the downside for TxDOT. The plan requires right-of-way clearance, but now the interests which stand to receive benefits don't want to incur any of the negatives.
Are there any renderings of the new plan or is it the same as the old renderings?
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kernals12

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I think Houston is making a big mistake with its threat to cancel the I-45 project. All the buildings either have been or will be torn down, so this is going to be a waste of money if the construction doesn't proceed. Also, why reroute it around the east side of downtown when the elevated section could've been rebuilt for much less?

My interpretation of TxDOT's proceeding with the demolition is that the downtown part of NHHIP is expected to proceed. Of course, TxDOT is privy to the state of negotiations with FHWA.

Sure, it would have been far less expensive to leave the downtown freeways as-is and just do maintenance for many decades into the future. But NHHIP is a grand compromise plan. Downtown interests wanted the I-69 elevated structures removed (i.e. sunk below ground), and the Pierce Elevated removed entirely. TxDOT wanted to relieve bottlenecks, and rebuild I-45 north of downtown as part  of the plan. So the NHHIP plan gives downtown interests what they want, and TxDOT gets what it wants. The plan is very expensive and that's the downside for TxDOT. The plan requires right-of-way clearance, but now the interests which stand to receive benefits don't want to incur any of the negatives.
Sounds a lot like Boston's Big Dig
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MaxConcrete

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Are there any renderings of the new plan or is it the same as the old renderings?
As far as publicly available information, nothing has changed. The most recent schematics are still the official plan.
https://www.txdot.gov/nhhip/updates.html

TXtoNJ

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I think Houston is making a big mistake with its threat to cancel the I-45 project. All the buildings either have been or will be torn down, so this is going to be a waste of money if the construction doesn't proceed. Also, why reroute it around the east side of downtown when the elevated section could've been rebuilt for much less?

A vocal minority (not necessarily members of minority groups) got the ears of Secretary Buttigieg and President Biden and had the project re-examined. I really am not sure what the governmental and neo-governmental planning agencies think. The bottom line is TxDOT is proceeding as if section 3 is going to be built as planned.

Quote
Also, why reroute it around the east side of downtown when the elevated section could've been rebuilt for much less?
It is specifically what the vocal downtown interests wanted. TxDOT said in not exactly a private manner when new problems started cropping up after the plan seemed to be firmly in place that TxDOT gave them what they wanted (rerouting around the Pierce Elevated) and still it was not enough. TxDOT wanted to just rebuild the freeway in the same place. It was the locals (the same ilk as those wanting rid of the previously invisible I-345 in Dallas ) who just short of demanded it.

I think you're conflating a lot of disparate interests. For example, downtown land developers are not opposed to any part of this - they got what they wanted. It's the local activist/NGO class that have been agitating the most against this, along with local politicians who have larger ambitions. This is mostly about building clout for them.

Just wait for the midterms.
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bwana39

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I think Houston is making a big mistake with its threat to cancel the I-45 project. All the buildings either have been or will be torn down, so this is going to be a waste of money if the construction doesn't proceed. Also, why reroute it around the east side of downtown when the elevated section could've been rebuilt for much less?

A vocal minority (not necessarily members of minority groups) got the ears of Secretary Buttigieg and President Biden and had the project re-examined. I really am not sure what the governmental and neo-governmental planning agencies think. The bottom line is TxDOT is proceeding as if section 3 is going to be built as planned.

Quote
Also, why reroute it around the east side of downtown when the elevated section could've been rebuilt for much less?
It is specifically what the vocal downtown interests wanted. TxDOT said in not exactly a private manner when new problems started cropping up after the plan seemed to be firmly in place that TxDOT gave them what they wanted (rerouting around the Pierce Elevated) and still it was not enough. TxDOT wanted to just rebuild the freeway in the same place. It was the locals (the same ilk as those wanting rid of the previously invisible I-345 in Dallas ) who just short of demanded it.

I think you're conflating a lot of disparate interests. For example, downtown land developers are not opposed to any part of this - they got what they wanted. It's the local activist/NGO class that have been agitating the most against this, along with local politicians who have larger ambitions. This is mostly about building clout for them.

Just wait for the midterms.

The problem for TxDOT is the fact the city and county agreed then the (seeming) support from either or both waned.  As you said wait until the mid-terms. The problem is local elections will locally make a new and yet to be ascertained set of realities and agendas in Houston and Harris county. Perhaps more so than the new congressional balance.

I simplified the concept to TxDOT versus the agenda of the city and county.

Yes, to some extent, it is co-mingling of constituencies. The land developers wanted rid of the Pierce Elevated to be able to more seamlessly expand downtown into mid-town. They indeed have everything THEY want. The developers and the hardcore urbanists worked as  a coalition to get rid of the Pierce Elevated. The developers got what they wanted. The urbanists clearly want(ed) more.
 
It is possible Rep Jackson-Lee MAY be grandstanding to work some sort of trade with the Segment 1 issues. There are still seriously unresolved issues north of I-610.

The reality is it is impossible for TxDOT to have a plan when they cannot figure out the demands and intentions of major stakeholders. We don't know a lot of what is happening behind the scenes, but in reality, what we are seeing is of greater consequence than it should be.  The real issue , just like in a romantic relationship is how to interpret the consent. DONTSTOP might be Don't!.... STOP!!! or it could be Don't Stop. the same letters, but set in their own context opposite meanings. It all boils down to how it is punctuated.

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TXtoNJ

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SJL sees that this is driving attention and Inner Loop money from individual donors. Opportunist as ever.

When you say "county" what you mean is Lina - she's got bigger ambitions than county office, and this is a great vehicle for her to get national recognition beyond what she already has in the Democratic Party - especially since it bypasses the completely dysfunctional state party.

Buttigieg is also running with this because he wants to be President, and he couldn't do so last time because black voters don't know who the hell he is. So slowing this down helps him both with social justice and black voters, by his estimation.

I don't think the TxDOT plans have significantly changed. Costs would have exploded even if construction started in 2021.

The midterms are important, because in the case of a likely Democratic collapse, Pete's going to challenge Biden in the primary again as the woke candidate, and it's very possible Hidalgo gets appointed to some junior Cabinet position as a rising star in the party. As soon as the DoT hold releases, plans can go forth as already laid down - just more expensive.
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