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Author Topic: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (includes downtown rebuild)  (Read 39800 times)

silverback1065

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Cut and cover tunnels aren't as simple and minimally destructive as you think.
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bwana39

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Cut and cover tunnels aren't as simple and minimally destructive as you think.

I get that. There are water, sewer, gas, storm drains, and perhaps even steam. Then there are electric and communications cables. Probably other stuff out there too.  There might even be pedestrian tunnels. Then there are the foundations of the adjacent buildings, not to mention vibration and other construction related complications to buildings in the area. (An area wider than you might think!)

Disruption of traffic crossing the ROW (which would be a ditch in the interim. ) I am not suggesting open it all up at once....

No, I didn't oversimplify or dismiss the complications. The fact is whether they call it a tunnel or not, the "depressed roadway with a cap" is in effect going to be a tunnel. I don't think it matters which side of downtown it is on. Either place, it will retain similar complications.

As to the alternative of a bored tunnel, it could go under much of the existant details, that said, this is where the balooning expenses have historically come in. Who is to say that if the proposed freeway was going to be built at ground level (it is not slated to be) that it will not have the same type of cost overruns.

« Last Edit: August 28, 2020, 11:15:46 PM by bwana39 »
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MaxConcrete

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Re: TxDOT recommends massive, mind-boggling rebuild of downtown Houston freeways
« Reply #202 on: September 25, 2020, 07:47:06 PM »

The FEIS has been issued. I don't see any changes that were not already known, and all previously-known changes were minor. The ROD can be issued after 30 days.
http://www.ih45northandmore.com/final_eis.aspx

The H-GAC study group is in progress and could recommend changes.

If there is a lawsuit on deck, it would probably be filed in the near future.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2020, 08:33:46 PM by MaxConcrete »
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: TxDOT recommends massive, mind-boggling rebuild of downtown Houston freeways
« Reply #203 on: September 25, 2020, 07:55:36 PM »

Tentatively, when could construction begin? 2022 by chance?
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MaxConcrete

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Re: TxDOT recommends massive, mind-boggling rebuild of downtown Houston freeways
« Reply #204 on: September 25, 2020, 08:10:11 PM »

Tentatively, when could construction begin? 2022 by chance?
It is slated for a 2022 start, but I think delays are likely, especially if there is a lawsuit.

Plutonic Panda

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bluecountry

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Cut and cover tunnels aren't as simple and minimally destructive as you think.
How so?
It is buried, and if you put green space, parks, rain garden, affordable housing as the 'cover' it works.
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silverback1065

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Cut and cover tunnels aren't as simple and minimally destructive as you think.
How so?
It is buried, and if you put green space, parks, rain garden, affordable housing as the 'cover' it works.

do they even allow anything more than a park on top of capped freeways? i've never seen anything more than that. i feel like a tunnel would be needed if you wanted to place buildings on top.
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rte66man

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Cut and cover tunnels aren't as simple and minimally destructive as you think.
How so?
It is buried, and if you put green space, parks, rain garden, affordable housing as the 'cover' it works.

do they even allow anything more than a park on top of capped freeways? i've never seen anything more than that. i feel like a tunnel would be needed if you wanted to place buildings on top.

Yes they do. See Minneapolis as one example:
https://www.google.com/maps/@44.9815753,-93.2771086,794m/data=!3m1!1e3
https://www.google.com/maps/@44.9793158,-93.2794253,3a,75y,33.43h,94.59t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sSQnbssf0Gf0bO9uOTRaSfQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Kansas City is another
https://www.google.com/maps/@39.097581,-94.5882976,871m/data=!3m1!1e3
https://www.google.com/maps/@39.0962925,-94.5852085,3a,75y,264.86h,94.14t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sSQsp43Z9vzeVCz8WVdhbfQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Both are only one block at a time but it's still a cap.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2020, 03:04:53 PM by rte66man »
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Hot Rod Hootenanny

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Cut and cover tunnels aren't as simple and minimally destructive as you think.
How so?
It is buried, and if you put green space, parks, rain garden, affordable housing as the 'cover' it works.

do they even allow anything more than a park on top of capped freeways? i've never seen anything more than that. i feel like a tunnel would be needed if you wanted to place buildings on top.

From the state that Silverback loves to hate...
Columbus's High Street cap (from I-670 below) - https://goo.gl/maps/hiRmw62uoDMrX8U9A
Columbus's High Street cap (from High St above I-670) - https://goo.gl/maps/RtcB5tCRUmBwKTRMA
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BigManFromAFRICA88

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Re: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (includes downtown rebuild)
« Reply #210 on: November 01, 2020, 11:48:43 PM »

Cut and cover tunnels aren't as simple and minimally destructive as you think.
How so?
It is buried, and if you put green space, parks, rain garden, affordable housing as the 'cover' it works.

do they even allow anything more than a park on top of capped freeways? i've never seen anything more than that. i feel like a tunnel would be needed if you wanted to place buildings on top.

I-5 through downtown Seattle has entered the chat.

EDIT: And Georgia SR 400 through the Buckhead CBD as well.
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bwana39

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Pierce Elevated.
« Reply #211 on: November 07, 2020, 01:24:38 PM »

Personally, I would still  prefer keeping I-45 & I-69 separate.

This said, I had had  based my opinions solely on my on-the ground recollections. I am not sure I had ever really looked closely at a map of downtown Houston. My perception was that the current route was relatively straight and the replacement route was circumnavigous.  The proposed route is indeed not straight, but it appears to be similar in mirror to the current route.  So, any argument about replacing a relatively straight through route with a looping one flies out the door. The proposed route for I-45 is about 3/4 of a mile longer.

I still have some issues. These superwide freeways are great until they aren't. What happens when a single wreck shuts down I-10, I-45, & I-69.

The Pierce Elevated was just an extender to make the north and south stubs of US-75 into downtown meet.  It was built elevated and without exits and entrances to the surface streets. By its design, it was supposed to be literally a bypass of downtown. As it was elevated there should have been minimal interference between downtown and midtown. What happened was that Midtown as most urban core neighborhoods declined during the last half of the twentieth century. Victorian homes became multi-family tenements. Changing demographics NOT I-45 caused the changes. This century gentrification came.

So here is what happens when the Pierce elevated is gone. It literally creates "new land". Places where developers can build (or in some cases restore / refurbish) properties along the corridor. It may make transitions of urban buildings in downtown to residential units more viable (as services are now closer to downtown. ) I used the word MAY. The fact is the footprint of the freeway is fairly small. 

The Pierce elevated needs replaced. While capacity is one of the issues, the bigger issue is it needs to be rebuilt. 60 year-old bridges that have been used heavily (much like I-345 in Dallas) need replacement.

There have been some successful freeway removals in the US. All of them before this have either removed the freeway from a waterfront or have been replaced by tunnels in a similar path.  For Houston, a tunnel is an option that has been barely mentioned. The irony is part of the project moving the Freeway to the Southeast side of downtown includes what is a defacto tunnel. (So the line goes... A tunnel wouldn't work, but let's build a depressed roadway with a covered deck at ground level...in function a tunnel.). 

Houston just needs to finish the improvements on I-610 so the through traffic has somewhere else to go. Close the Pierce elevated then build a tunnel to bridge the gap. It might be inconvenient, but I can assure you no more inconvenient than rebuilding I-69 and I-10 both to accomplish this.  This proposal will probably work well in the end, but getting there may stall any benefits.  Building a tunnel along the Pierce corridor could cut down many of the negatives of the current proposal as well.

This all said, as close in as I-610 is, just closing and removing the Pierce elevated MIGHT be achievable with MINIMAL upgrades at all.  Time, not engineering would prove that out.

Tear it down and leave it be for a couple of years. See what the traffic actually does.... If it is unmanageable, build the tunnel. If it adapts without a big increase in gridlock. Build just the boulevard...

Here is my bet... They build the freeway basically as proposed. Some time a decade or later someone proposes to bridge the freeway stub that will still reach to around Smith Street with the freeways south of downtown with a tunnel.  IE replace the Pierce elevated.





« Last Edit: November 07, 2020, 02:36:22 PM by bwana39 »
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MaxConcrete

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Re: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (includes downtown rebuild)
« Reply #212 on: November 07, 2020, 02:44:29 PM »

The Pierce elevated needs replaced. While capacity is one of the issues, the bigger issue is it needs to be rebuilt. 60 year-old bridges that have been used heavily (much like I-345 in Dallas) need replacement.
The pavement/deck of the Pierce Elevated was replaced in 1997, and it still has plenty of life in it, 20+ years. However, the Pierce Elevated has suffered from inadequate capacity for decades.

Here is my bet... They build the freeway basically as proposed. Some time a decade or later someone proposes to bridge the freeway stub that will still reach to around Smith Street with the freeways south of downtown with a tunnel.  IE replace the Pierce elevated.
I agree that the downtown work for the NHHIP will most likely proceed as planned, and this work will be the first part of the NHHIP to proceed. Opposition is focusing on IH-45 north of downtown, and they are trying to kill that part of the project.

I disagree that some kind of vehicular replacement for the Pierce Elevated will be built. That would be expensive, and the main purpose of the project from the perspective of downtown interests is to get rid of the Pierce Elevated.





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silverback1065

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Re: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (includes downtown rebuild)
« Reply #213 on: November 07, 2020, 10:40:26 PM »

Why does this thread have a different name now?
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (includes downtown rebuild)
« Reply #214 on: November 08, 2020, 12:12:42 AM »

This name is more appropriate, IMO.
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bwana39

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Re: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (includes downtown rebuild)
« Reply #215 on: November 08, 2020, 08:33:36 AM »

Why does this thread have a different name now?

This is a larger project than just the reroute of I-45 around downtown. It is a three segment project: Segment 3 is the downtown freeways modification. The reroute of I-45 is the biggest highlight, but it includes work on the entire downtown freeway system including  I-10, I-69, and TX-288. It is expected to be done first.

Segment 2 is widening  the North Freeway (I-45) from the I-10 split to I-610 including revamping the I-610 / I-45 interchange.
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Segment 1 is widening of the North Freeway (I-45) from I-610 to Beltway-8.

At this point, the plan for the downtown  part is mostly  decided. Construction is still years off. There is still a good bit of controversy surrounding the part going north of downtown.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 12:14:11 PM by bwana39 »
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STLmapboy

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Re: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (includes downtown rebuild)
« Reply #216 on: November 13, 2020, 01:36:09 PM »

So when will the contract be awarded? Has the comment period ended?
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (includes downtown rebuild)
« Reply #217 on: November 13, 2020, 02:28:24 PM »

So when will the contract be awarded? Has the comment period ended?
The public comment period was extended for 30 days and is still active.
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bwana39

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MaxConcrete

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Re: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (includes downtown rebuild)
« Reply #219 on: December 09, 2020, 01:37:41 PM »

https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2020/12/08/houston-mayor-pushes-back-on-txdot-i-45-plans.html?cx_testId=40&cx_testVariant=cx_27&cx_artPos=0#cxrecs_s

According to the article, the latest communication from Houston Mayor Turner to TxDOT focuses on asking TxDOT for more funding to replace displaced housing, and also seeks TxDOT's response to flooding concerns. The article mentions Turner still would like to see a narrower footprint for the project.

I think this is mostly a favorable development for the project. I have not seen the Mayor's December 8 letter, but the article suggests that Turner seems to no longer be asking major changes to the project, but is focusing on mitigation.

My perception (which is based on publicly available info only) is that TxDOT is planning to press forward with the FEIS design with little or no changes. This could invite a lawsuit from certain parties, but it does not sound like the city of Houston is threatening to participate in litigation.

MaxConcrete

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Re: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (includes downtown rebuild)
« Reply #220 on: January 16, 2021, 05:40:16 PM »

Here's the latest status of the project.

A special committee of HGAC (the regional planning council) has been working for the last 6-12 months to develop a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between all parties. On January 8 the committee ended its planned activity when an impasse was reached. TxDOT refused to sign the memorandum of understanding due to language that certain parties wanted. (I don't know the specifics of that language.) TxDOT Houston director Eliza Paul said they "agree to disagree". There won't be a signed memorandum, but instead the committee will submit a resolution to the TPC with goals and objectives. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEbX6g--c0c

Harris County has hired legal counsel. Harris County Commissioner Garcia says they have not yet made a decision to file a lawsuit against the project, but TxDOT is expecting a lawsuit as soon as the ROD is issued. Having a lawsuit is not a surprise, but the news here is that Harris County is taking the lead, as opposed to a community interest organization like LINK. Of course, Harris County would have unlimited resources to pursue legal action, whereas a community organization would not.

In separate action, most of the downtown work has been delayed due to financial constraint, which presumably is loss of revenue due to Covid. https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/27fd20e3-92a8-48f4-b901-0f5c43316b34/STIP-Movement-Detail-Pages-January2021.pdf

IH69 from Spur 527 to SH288 ($260 million): still listed for 2022
IH69 from SH288 to IH45 ($485 million): still listed for bidding in July 2022
IH69/IH10 interchange and IH10 on the north side of downtown ($1.06 billion): delayed from 2022 to 2024
IH69 on the east side of downtown ($1.14 billion): delayed from 2022 to 2025
IH45 on the west side of downtown ($243 million): delayed from 2022 to 2025
All work on the northwest side of downtown (IH45/IH10 interchange) to Loop 610: no longer scheduled, listed as 2030 start date in planning documents

My impression: Signing the MOU would probably have forced TxDOT to significantly alter the FEIS plan, which TxDOT was not willing to do. So that is good news for keeping the FEIS plan alive. Most likely this will be settled by a lawsuit and court decision. This could delay the schedule if TxDOT ultimately wins, but since the schedule is already delayed, it may not have much effect. If TxDOT loses in court, the schedule is moot and the entire project is in doubt.
It's unclear to me if the first projects on the south side of downtown, which are noncontroversial, will able to be able to proceed in 2022 if a lawsuit is filed. That depends on whether there is an injunction against TxDOT for work on the project.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2021, 06:05:17 PM by MaxConcrete »
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