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Author Topic: TxDOT recommends massive, mind-boggling rebuild of downtown Houston freeways  (Read 28136 times)

MaxConcrete

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I'm amazed how fast the decision-making process is in this case. In most areas such a very large project would require decades of political indecisiveness and shifting priorities before it gets built with a reduced scope.

This project hardly appeared on the radar until 2015, right?

The process actually started in 2002 but was suspended between 2005 and 2011 due to lack of consensus and lack of money. The process has been in the active study mode since around 2012.

http://www.ih45northandmore.com/history.aspx

While it still took some time to get to this point, there are probably only a very few cities in the USA which can implement a project this ambitious, both politically and financially. Dallas is working toward something similar, but it is being done one small section at a time.

MaxConcrete

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When was the I-10/59 (now I-69) interchange redone? Five or seven years ago? And it will be replaced in five to seven years? Amazing.
It was completed by early 2004, if I recall correctly. (Most of it was open in late 2013, just in time for the Super Bowl.) The record for the shortest-lived major interchange is the original IH-10 west and BW8 interchange, Houston's first five-level interchange which existed from 1988 to around 2007 (19 years). The I-10/59 interchange would have to come down before 2023 to break the record, and I think it is unlikely it will be replaced before 2023.

MaxConcrete

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It looks like this project is going to happen, sooner rather than later.

Yesterday TxDOT approved $922 million toward the $1.7 billion first phase on the south side of downtown. (I'm assuming the rest of the funding is in place). Work on the section of IH-69 between Spur 527 and SH 288 could start as soon as 2020, with additional work north of SH 288 starting in 2021 and 2022. According to the article, the TxDOT Commission is slated to approve more funds next month to continue pushing work northward, including the relocation of IH-45. A ROD is expected this year, and a public meeting should take place within the next few months. The most recent number I've seen for all downtown work is $2.9 billion.

Probably subscriber-only
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/State-accelerates-start-time-for-major-I-45-10958185.php



Project site with schematics
http://www.ih45northandmore.com/
Quote
...
Though these first steps are incremental compared to the overall plan, officials say they are important and send the clear message: The I-45 freeway is relocating and the elevated portion along Pierce will be abandoned and maybe demolished within the next dozen years.

Work on revamping the freeway intersections is slated for late 2020 or early 2021, years ahead of when state officials first predicted when they unveiled their construction plans in 2014.

For the Houston region, it might be the most significant freeway project in anyone's lifetime. That's because it reconfigures the three interstates that form the backbone of how Houstonians move - I-45, I-69 and Interstate 10 - in the one area where they are so closely tangled and reliant on drivers making transitions from one to another as smooth as possible.

The state commitment, provided the Texas Transportation Commission proceeds with its planned changes to the Unified Transportation Plan that sets all state highway project priorities, would contribute $923 million of the $1.7 billion needed to rebuild I-45, I-69 and Texas 288 where the three freeways converge. Most of the money comes from Texas Clear Lanes, a program aimed at addressing congestion in the state's five biggest cities.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2017, 08:00:25 PM by MaxConcrete »
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DNAguy

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What the heck is TxDOT doing w/ the 610 rebuild? I was super jazzed about this post until I saw that!

That has 5 lanes in both directions and a significant median (enough for a HOV even!) in-between.

If you want to rebuild 610, do the part from 288 to 45. That section is a POS, engineered to 1960's standards, and has discontinuous frontage roads at rr crossings that cause traffic jams by forcing folks onto the highway for local trips. I know it's most poor black folks who live in that area so TxDOT could care less, but A LOT of petrochemical trucks use those roads so time = $$$$. 288 to 225 needs to be redesigned and rebuilt. 610 from i45 to 225 needs an 610 west style (I10 to 290) revamp with direct 225 to I45 connectors that are separated from 610 traffic. Do that and stop wasting $.

As someone who commutes from 90A to Deer Park everyday, I can attest that the major cause of traffic on the section of 610 slated to be rebuilt is:
1.) The 288 interchange (which will likely likely be solved when its rebuild)
2.) 90A-Main / frontage traffic backing up onto the freeway (Would be solved with direct connectors from 90A north to 610 east & 610 west to 90A south 
3.) S Post Oak's traffic backing up onto 610 (A problem solved with adding overpasses to 90A and/or extending the FB tollroad to South Post Oak)

The work they're doing does nothing to address these issues.

I can't even TxDOT. I just can't even....
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longhorn

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So the recently built I-69/59 over I-10 interchange will be changed or remodeled?
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MaxConcrete

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So the recently built I-69/59 over I-10 interchange will be changed or remodeled?

According to the plan it will be totally demolished and replaced. Somewhat of a shame, since it has some nice, long, high ramps into downtown.

Depending on exactly when it happens, it could take the record for the shortest-lived major interchange. But most likely it won't take the record, because the original 5-level IH-10 West/Beltway 8 interchange lasted from 1989 until 2008, only 19 years. To beat that record, the new interchange will need to be done by 2022, which is unlikely.

MaxConcrete

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What the heck is TxDOT doing w/ the 610 rebuild? I was super jazzed about this post until I saw that!

That has 5 lanes in both directions and a significant median (enough for a HOV even!) in-between.

If you want to rebuild 610, do the part from 288 to 45. That section is a POS, engineered to 1960's standards, and has discontinuous frontage roads at rr crossings that cause traffic jams by forcing folks onto the highway for local trips. I know it's most poor black folks who live in that area so TxDOT could care less, but A LOT of petrochemical trucks use those roads so time = $$$$. 288 to 225 needs to be redesigned and rebuilt. 610 from i45 to 225 needs an 610 west style (I10 to 290) revamp with direct 225 to I45 connectors that are separated from 610 traffic. Do that and stop wasting $.

As someone who commutes from 90A to Deer Park everyday, I can attest that the major cause of traffic on the section of 610 slated to be rebuilt is:
1.) The 288 interchange (which will likely likely be solved when its rebuild)
2.) 90A-Main / frontage traffic backing up onto the freeway (Would be solved with direct connectors from 90A north to 610 east & 610 west to 90A south 
3.) S Post Oak's traffic backing up onto 610 (A problem solved with adding overpasses to 90A and/or extending the FB tollroad to South Post Oak)

The work they're doing does nothing to address these issues.

I can't even TxDOT. I just can't even....

The work on Loop 610 will add an interchange at Cambridge Street to create a new access route into the Medical Center. The project is not part of a Loop 610 rebuild or widening; it is strictly for medical center access.

As for widening between between SH 288 and IH 45: as you mentioned it is a mostly black, lower-income area. And because of the low-income minority status, it becomes very difficult to gain approval for highway improvements due to "environmental justice" issues. Political leadership does not want to be seen as pushing highway improvements through a minority area where there is opposition (and there always is opposition), so (the last time I checked) nothing is planned and nothing is slated to happen in the long term regional plan (i.e. the next 30 years).

Anthony_JK

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What the heck is TxDOT doing w/ the 610 rebuild? I was super jazzed about this post until I saw that!

That has 5 lanes in both directions and a significant median (enough for a HOV even!) in-between.

If you want to rebuild 610, do the part from 288 to 45. That section is a POS, engineered to 1960's standards, and has discontinuous frontage roads at rr crossings that cause traffic jams by forcing folks onto the highway for local trips. I know it's most poor black folks who live in that area so TxDOT could care less, but A LOT of petrochemical trucks use those roads so time = $$$$. 288 to 225 needs to be redesigned and rebuilt. 610 from i45 to 225 needs an 610 west style (I10 to 290) revamp with direct 225 to I45 connectors that are separated from 610 traffic. Do that and stop wasting $.

As someone who commutes from 90A to Deer Park everyday, I can attest that the major cause of traffic on the section of 610 slated to be rebuilt is:
1.) The 288 interchange (which will likely likely be solved when its rebuild)
2.) 90A-Main / frontage traffic backing up onto the freeway (Would be solved with direct connectors from 90A north to 610 east & 610 west to 90A south 
3.) S Post Oak's traffic backing up onto 610 (A problem solved with adding overpasses to 90A and/or extending the FB tollroad to South Post Oak)

The work they're doing does nothing to address these issues.

I can't even TxDOT. I just can't even....

The work on Loop 610 will add an interchange at Cambridge Street to create a new access route into the Medical Center. The project is not part of a Loop 610 rebuild or widening; it is strictly for medical center access.

As for widening between between SH 288 and IH 45: as you mentioned it is a mostly black, lower-income area. And because of the low-income minority status, it becomes very difficult to gain approval for highway improvements due to "environmental justice" issues. Political leadership does not want to be seen as pushing highway improvements through a minority area where there is opposition (and there always is opposition), so (the last time I checked) nothing is planned and nothing is slated to happen in the long term regional plan (i.e. the next 30 years).

I would figure, though, with Prez Trumpster's proposals to do away with most regulations constraining highway construction and environmental impact on "environmental justice" communities, it should get a bit easier to approve upgrades through poor Black communities. That is, if the "freeway teardown" folks don't get there first.

I agree that something really does need to be done on that segment of 610 between 45 and 288. A more fully directional interchange between 610 and 45 would be pretty nice.

BTW...are there still plans for a tollway along SH 35 which would go from 45/610 to Alvin to connect with the proposed Grand Parkway?
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TXtoNJ

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What the heck is TxDOT doing w/ the 610 rebuild? I was super jazzed about this post until I saw that!

That has 5 lanes in both directions and a significant median (enough for a HOV even!) in-between.

If you want to rebuild 610, do the part from 288 to 45. That section is a POS, engineered to 1960's standards, and has discontinuous frontage roads at rr crossings that cause traffic jams by forcing folks onto the highway for local trips. I know it's most poor black folks who live in that area so TxDOT could care less, but A LOT of petrochemical trucks use those roads so time = $$$$. 288 to 225 needs to be redesigned and rebuilt. 610 from i45 to 225 needs an 610 west style (I10 to 290) revamp with direct 225 to I45 connectors that are separated from 610 traffic. Do that and stop wasting $.

As someone who commutes from 90A to Deer Park everyday, I can attest that the major cause of traffic on the section of 610 slated to be rebuilt is:
1.) The 288 interchange (which will likely likely be solved when its rebuild)
2.) 90A-Main / frontage traffic backing up onto the freeway (Would be solved with direct connectors from 90A north to 610 east & 610 west to 90A south 
3.) S Post Oak's traffic backing up onto 610 (A problem solved with adding overpasses to 90A and/or extending the FB tollroad to South Post Oak)

The work they're doing does nothing to address these issues.

I can't even TxDOT. I just can't even....

The work on Loop 610 will add an interchange at Cambridge Street to create a new access route into the Medical Center. The project is not part of a Loop 610 rebuild or widening; it is strictly for medical center access.

As for widening between between SH 288 and IH 45: as you mentioned it is a mostly black, lower-income area. And because of the low-income minority status, it becomes very difficult to gain approval for highway improvements due to "environmental justice" issues. Political leadership does not want to be seen as pushing highway improvements through a minority area where there is opposition (and there always is opposition), so (the last time I checked) nothing is planned and nothing is slated to happen in the long term regional plan (i.e. the next 30 years).

I would figure, though, with Prez Trumpster's proposals to do away with most regulations constraining highway construction and environmental impact on "environmental justice" communities, it should get a bit easier to approve upgrades through poor Black communities. That is, if the "freeway teardown" folks don't get there first.

I agree that something really does need to be done on that segment of 610 between 45 and 288. A more fully directional interchange between 610 and 45 would be pretty nice.

BTW...are there still plans for a tollway along SH 35 which would go from 45/610 to Alvin to connect with the proposed Grand Parkway?

They're building ramps from SB 45 to WB 610, actually. And last I remember, the SH 35 tollway is on hiatus indefinitely. Too much development around Pearland for there to be a viable corridor.
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DNAguy

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They're building ramps from SB 45 to WB 610, actually.

I don't understand why they did this really.

Surface streets and the existing SH35 / frontage road route to WB 610 adequately handle anyone making the making the SB45 to WB 610 trip

The $30 MM or so it's costing to build that flyover is a waste of resources that should be saved for a more comprehensive overhaul of the 225/610 interchange to 45/610 interchange that is a complete mess OR put into more deserving projects.

You might have an argument for the EB 610 to NB 45 flyover they're building...... but that's going to do didly for actually alleviating any congestion on 610 as it's mostly due to:
1.) the steep grade of 610 over 45
2.) the steep grade + tight curve of the EB 610 to SB 45 direct connector
3.) The Hobby airport exiting traffic fighting with the merging direct connector traffic on 45
4.) The entering traffic onto 610 fighting the exiting traffic to SB45 at ~ Woodridge / SH35

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silverback1065

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why not just remove all of 45, is the stub really that necessary?
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TXtoNJ

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why not just remove all of 45, is the stub really that necessary?

Yes. It's the primary means by which S. Downtown, Midtown and Montrose access the freeway system.

This, incidentally, leads to one of the primary knocks against the Pierce Elevated - it's practically useless to those who live in the area. People coming from the southwest use Spur 527, the downtown Gulf Freeway exits from the southeast, and the Jackson/Chenevert exits from the south. The Pierce serves 95%+ through traffic, and it does not do that particularly well.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2017, 05:24:49 PM by TXtoNJ »
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compdude787

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The Pierce serves 95%+ through traffic, and it does not do that particularly well.

Why not?

inkyatari

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Yesterday TxDOT approved $922 billion toward the $1.7 billion first phase on the south side of downtown. (I'm assuming the rest of the funding is in place).

I saw this and my eyes bugged out,  :-o then I realized it was a typo...
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DNAguy

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The Pierce serves 95%+ through traffic, and it does not do that particularly well.

Why not?

1.) Tight curve radius on western end of downtown
2.) # of lanes (3 in each direction)
3.) Left and right exits / entrances
4.) Engineering of overpass itself (its like being in a boat w/ all the bobbing up and down at speeds > 30 mph)
5.) The terrible interchanges with I10 and 59/69
6.) And finally everyone seems to be distracted by the tall buildings to the point that they forget how to drive.
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silverback1065

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The Pierce serves 95%+ through traffic, and it does not do that particularly well.

Why not?

1.) Tight curve radius on western end of downtown
2.) # of lanes (3 in each direction)
3.) Left and right exits / entrances
4.) Engineering of overpass itself (its like being in a boat w/ all the bobbing up and down at speeds > 30 mph)
5.) The terrible interchanges with I10 and 59/69
6.) And finally everyone seems to be distracted by the tall buildings to the point that they forget how to drive.

 :-D to #6

this must have been designed back in the original interstate construction days.  generally all interstates in downtown areas are terribly designed by today's standards.
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Henry

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So the recently built I-69/59 over I-10 interchange will be changed or remodeled?

According to the plan it will be totally demolished and replaced. Somewhat of a shame, since it has some nice, long, high ramps into downtown.

Depending on exactly when it happens, it could take the record for the shortest-lived major interchange. But most likely it won't take the record, because the original 5-level IH-10 West/Beltway 8 interchange lasted from 1989 until 2008, only 19 years. To beat that record, the new interchange will need to be done by 2022, which is unlikely.
Sign of the times...nothing lasts forever these days, does it? :(
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longhorn

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The Pierce serves 95%+ through traffic, and it does not do that particularly well.

Why not?

1.) Tight curve radius on western end of downtown
2.) # of lanes (3 in each direction)
3.) Left and right exits / entrances
4.) Engineering of overpass itself (its like being in a boat w/ all the bobbing up and down at speeds > 30 mph)
5.) The terrible interchanges with I10 and 59/69
6.) And finally everyone seems to be distracted by the tall buildings to the point that they forget how to drive.

What is so terrible on the I-10 interchange. Its the same as the Mixmaster in downtown Dallas. I think its pretty innovative, two major freeway parallel each other, exchange traffic, and then separate. No right angle exits.
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MaxConcrete

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I just noticed an updated "project overview briefing packet" on the project web site
http://www.ih45northandmore.com/docs4/20170327_NHHIP_Presentation_Project%20Overview%20Briefing%20for%20Website.pdf
Project site http://www.ih45northandmore.com/

On the last page there is a cost summary for the downtown work
Construction: $3.067 billion
Right-of-way: $875.4 billion

Total: $3.942 billion

Those numbers do not include the deck park, which could add another couple hundred million dollars.

The right-of-way on the east side of downtown, $423.6 million, is quite high.

Construction of Interstate 10 on the north side of downtown, including the big interchange complex with IH-45, is also quite high at $1.63 billion.

Work on the south side of downtown is slated to start in 2020, and work on the north side of downtown is slated to start in 2026. So that would put completion around 2030.

There's no word on the rest of the project, from downtown north to Beltway 8. North of downtown is actually most of the project length, and I'm concerned it could get pushed into the distant future (after 2030) since the downtown work will consume most available funding. I'm thinking some new transportation funding will be needed to get that part of the project moving forward anytime soon. I'm not optimistic about any non-tolled funding from a Trump infrastructure program, but that would seem to be the best hope for new funding in the short term.

Chris

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The draft EIS has been published: http://www.ih45northandmore.com/draft_eis.aspx

compdude787

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The draft EIS has been published: http://www.ih45northandmore.com/draft_eis.aspx

Cool! Looks like the new combined I-45/I-69 is going to be one heck of a wide freeway! I count a total of 21 lanes, not including frontage roads.

TXtoNJ

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Looking at the new schematics, am I correct in seeing that there is no direct movement from 45N to 10E, 45S to 59N, 59S to 45N and 10E to 45S? Not that it's an issue - I doubt there is much traffic that flows that way - but it is a bit of a sea change in how TxDOT approaches Interstate connections.

There will be a lot of "TO I-XX" signs here, something you really don't see in the Houston area.
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Chris

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The I-10 / I-45 mix will feature up to 32 freeway lanes.

intelati49

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The I-10 / I-45 mix will feature up to 32 freeway lanes.



This is mindboggling. Two thoughts: 1. I should move to Texas and get a EIT there. 2. How the hell do they intend to pay for this?

TheArkansasRoadgeek

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The I-10 / I-45 mix will feature up to 32 freeway lanes.



This is mindboggling. Two thoughts: 1. I should move to Texas and get a EIT there. 2. How the hell do they intend to pay for this?

It's Texas, I'm sure they'll find a way!
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