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Author Topic: Houston: SH 35 Freeway appears to be coming to life  (Read 1175 times)

MaxConcrete

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Houston: SH 35 Freeway appears to be coming to life
« on: June 01, 2018, 07:29:18 PM »

TxDOT posted a solicitation for consultants to provide PS&E (plans, schedule and estimates) for the SH 35 freeway from IH 45 inside the Loop to Bellfort south of Loop 610. This is somewhat unexpected, and (for me) somewhat exciting since I didn't know if this freeway would ever get built. And even better, in the current political climate it will not be tolled (assuming it is built before the climate changes).

For those not familiar, this is the long-planned and long-dormant freeway starting at IH 45 near the University of Houston just southeast of downtown. Connections to IH 45 were built in the early 1980s (and improved in the 1990s), and a section of frontage roads from IH 45 to Old Spanish Trail was built around 2000. The right-of-way is mostly clear, and it will follow a railroad through a warehouse area (which means little or no NIMBY). This will be Houston's last new freeway inside Loop 610 (after the Hardy Toll Road extension, scheduled for completion around 2021).

This is soliciation #3401 on the advertised contracts page. https://www.txdot.gov/business/consultants/architectural-engineering-surveying/advertised-contracts.html
To see the schematics, download the zip file with documents. http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot/ppd/0000003401/3401-documents.zip

The solicitation is listing PS&E on five separate contracts for the freeway main lanes and four direct connectors at Loop 610. I'm assuming the four connectors would be the north half of the interchange.
SH 35: from North of Old Spanish Trail to Griggs Road
SH 35: from Long Drive to Bellfort
SH 35: from Griggs Road to Bellfort
IH 610 at SH 35: construct two of the four direct connects plus reconstruction of a portion of the Mainlane Bridge
IH 610 at SH 35: construct two of the four direct connects

Of course, construction is not imminent at this point, but this will get the wheels in motion.

mgk920

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Re: Houston: SH 35 Freeway appears to be coming to life
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2018, 01:59:47 AM »

Interesting.  Checking google aerial images shows that the ROW is clear within a couple of neighborhoods along the way, too.  What is its ultimate 'buildout' plan?

I guess that that also means that any planned 'inward' extension of TX 225 remains a pipe dream, too.   :meh:

Mike
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: SH 35 Freeway appears to be coming to life
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2018, 10:44:46 AM »

Interesting.  Checking google aerial images shows that the ROW is clear within a couple of neighborhoods along the way, too.  What is its ultimate 'buildout' plan?
The project has been dormant so long, I don't know for certain what is currently envisioned as the ultimate buildout. Some time ago, a plan I saw extended the freeway/tollway south to  BW8/Sam Houston Tollway, and ending the freeway/tollway lanes in that area. But the HGAC 2040 plan shows it extending south past BW8 all the way to Alvin.
http://www.h-gac.com/taq/plan/2040/docs/Appendix%20A%20Map%20Book.pdf

I guess that that also means that any planned 'inward' extension of TX 225 remains a pipe dream, too.   :meh:
The SH 225 extension inside the loop is definitely permanently canceled. It has been officially dead since the 1970s, and nothing has changed.

However, there has been discussion of extending SH 35 north of IH 45 along the railroad corridor, connecting into the freeway interchange near IH 69 and IH 10 on the northeast side of downtown. The last I heard is that a formal study is still planned, maybe starting later this year or next year. The rationale for the extension is that IH 45 will not be able to handle the traffic connecting to/from the new SH 35 freeway. However, I think it will be very difficult to get the extension approved due to NIMBY interests in that redeveloping area.

mgk920

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Re: Houston: SH 35 Freeway appears to be coming to life
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2018, 12:13:51 PM »

Interesting.  Checking google aerial images shows that the ROW is clear within a couple of neighborhoods along the way, too.  What is its ultimate 'buildout' plan?
The project has been dormant so long, I don't know for certain what is currently envisioned as the ultimate buildout. Some time ago, a plan I saw extended the freeway/tollway south to  BW8/Sam Houston Tollway, and ending the freeway/tollway lanes in that area. But the HGAC 2040 plan shows it extending south past BW8 all the way to Alvin.
http://www.h-gac.com/taq/plan/2040/docs/Appendix%20A%20Map%20Book.pdf

I guess that that also means that any planned 'inward' extension of TX 225 remains a pipe dream, too.   :meh:
The SH 225 extension inside the loop is definitely permanently canceled. It has been officially dead since the 1970s, and nothing has changed.

However, there has been discussion of extending SH 35 north of IH 45 along the railroad corridor, connecting into the freeway interchange near IH 69 and IH 10 on the northeast side of downtown. The last I heard is that a formal study is still planned, maybe starting later this year or next year. The rationale for the extension is that IH 45 will not be able to handle the traffic connecting to/from the new SH 35 freeway. However, I think it will be very difficult to get the extension approved due to NIMBY interests in that redeveloping area.

I do note that TX 35 bypass of Alvin and how it could be extended in both directions.  I certainly hope that steps are being taken to preserve a ROW at its north end, as Google's aerial images show that there is a new subdivision on Alvin's north side that is dangerously close to cutting it off.

Mike
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DNAguy

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Re: Houston: SH 35 Freeway appears to be coming to life
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2018, 12:49:27 PM »

Interesting.  Checking google aerial images shows that the ROW is clear within a couple of neighborhoods along the way, too.  What is its ultimate 'buildout' plan?

I guess that that also means that any planned 'inward' extension of TX 225 remains a pipe dream, too.   :meh:

Mike

TX225 doesn't need to go to downtown. But the 225, 610, 45 exchange area DOES need to be revamped... big time. I'm going to go a little off topic, the southeast part Houston is in need of major upgrades and TxDOT isn't investing in it like it should.

TXDot is currently adding direct connectors for 610 east/north to 45 N and 45 S to 610 West/south. Why exactly IDK. It solves a problem that really doesn't exist as there is no real big traffic bottleneck of those commuters going from Sunnyside to downtown and visa versa.

What is needed is something on the scale of the 610 / 290 / I10 work being done on the west side. It would a be a boon for the ship channel and really help reduce congestion... and actual mean real $ saved by reduced congestion.

There needs to be direct I45 to TX225 connectors that don't dump you off on 610 1st. There is no need for direct 610 to TX225 west connectors as the freeway ends < a mile away. I45's 1960's era direct connectors all need to be bulldozed and replaced w/ ones that form to today standards. Dumping 610 traffic into I45's left lane is horribad. Not to mention a lot of that traffic darts 4 lanes across to exit for Hobby. Silly bordering on madness. Having Broadway / PArk place exits from the direct connectors themselves would be a great addition.

The SH35 tollway would also be a great addition for catching East Pearland / Friendswood traffic and relieve 288 and 45. While each has been and is being upgraded, there will come a time when they're choked with traffic again. A Hardy-like reliever tollway will be needed.

And while we're at it, Southeast 610 from 288 to I45 needs a MAJOR upgrade as well. It needs contiguous frontage roads. The west bound traffic is always in grid-lock because everyone is forced onto the freeway at multiple rail crossings. That would go a long way to reducing the issues... but the entering traffic without any merging runway is also a major obstruction.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: SH 35 Freeway appears to be coming to life
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2018, 09:22:02 PM »

Quote
I45's 1960's era direct connectors all need to be bulldozed and replaced w/ ones that form to today standards.

I agree, the 610/45 interchange design dates back to the earliest days of Houston's freeways in the 1940s when Gulf Freeway was designed and built.

So I was somewhat surprised when TxDOT spent so much money on the two new, very long connector ramps. With the construction of those ramps designed around the current configuration, my conclusion is that TxDOT has no plans to redo that interchange for a very long time. Indeed, there is nothing in the regional long-range plan (which goes out 25 years).

As for the other improvements you mention, those are good ideas. I had not thought about a long connector ramp system between 225 and 45. For the south Loop, it definitely does need at least one more lane each way between 45 and 288, but the frontage road improvements could be a good start.

Realistically, with the $4 billion downtown rebuild project first in line for funding and the $3 billion I-45 north expansion next in line, there will be few other major projects moving forward in the 2020s. The SH 35 freeway may be sufficiently low cost to squeeze into the funding line.

nolia_boi504

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Re: Houston: SH 35 Freeway appears to be coming to life
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2018, 09:30:27 AM »

I'd like to see 35 (or a branch off of it) to tie into Hobby with a non-stop expressway connection, similar to the Hardy tying into IAH.

Speaking of feeder roads on 610, why isn't the 610-288 interchange being developed as a 5 level stack with feeders extending through the interchange? Obviously cost is an issue (building taller flyovers and having to elevate 288), but is there not a need for it to relieve congestion?

Nexus 5X

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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: SH 35 Freeway appears to be coming to life
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2019, 11:44:43 PM »

This project is continuing to move forward, and the HGAC planning council will approve a resolution to advance the project next week. Here is the information from the technical committee

http://www.h-gac.com/taq/transportation-committees/TAC/2019/02-feb/documents/ITEM-09-1-Recommendation-for-TPC-Approval-of-SH%2035%20DCs.pdf

The good news is that $140 million is already funded for the main lanes (which appears to cover the section inside Loop 610), and another $56.5 million is being allocated for two direct connectors. Other efforts are ongoing to secure the needed funds for two more connectors and the rest of the main lanes for the total project cost of $387 million. This is a non-tolled project.

The bad news is that construction is not slated to begin until 2025. Hopefully that can be moved to be sooner.

Henry

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Re: Houston: SH 35 Freeway appears to be coming to life
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2019, 10:23:51 AM »

Here's to continued progress!
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