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Author Topic: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status  (Read 7575 times)

MaxConcrete

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Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« on: April 08, 2016, 11:21:00 PM »

The good news: finally after a long delay, the first actual construction for the Hardy Toll Road downtown extension will begin soon.
The bad news: this project is just one overpass, and there are two more crossings to be built in phase 1 before construction of the actual main lanes will start.

http://www.harriscountytx.gov/agenda/2016/2016-04-12ag.pdf
"Recommendation for authorization to seek bids for a four-week period for
construction of the Collingsworth grade separation from Elysian Street to Jensen
Drive as part of the Hardy Toll Road downtown connector project in Precincts 1
and 2 (UPIN 9905050403)."

https://www.hctra.org/about_construction/hardy-downtown-connector?CSRT=14421991457330431833

I've been nervous all these years that the project has been on hold, since you never know when the political climate can change or opposition may arise to try kill the project. This project passes through the inner loop, the most difficult area of Houston to build or expand freeways.

Sept 2020 update: The political climate changed in 2019 to a Democrat-controlled Harris County Commissioners Court, and the Hardy Toll Road extension appears to be dead. However there has not been an official announcement yet, because it appears that a formal study and recommendation is needed first.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2020, 08:51:36 PM by MaxConcrete »
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jbnv

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Is there a map of this extension?
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MaxConcrete

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MaxConcrete

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The winning bid was $17.5 million by Harper Brothers LLC. I've never heard of Harper Brothers, so they're new to Houston or don't normally do larger highway projects.

Recommendation for authorization to award a contract to Harper Brothers
Construction, LLC, lowest and best bid in the amount of $17,480,467 for
construction of the Collingsworth grade separation from Elysian Street to Jensen
Drive as part of the Hardy Toll Road downtown connector project in Precinct 1, and
that the County Judge and appropriate officials execute the contract and bonds
when they are fully executed by the contractor (UPIN 0405050403).

https://www.harriscountytx.gov/agenda/2016/2016-06-14ag.pdf

MaxConcrete

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The second contract for the downtown extension has been awarded, $21.6 million for the Lorraine Street underpass.

Quote
Texas Sterling Construction Co., in the amount of $21,618,080 for construction of the Lorraine Street underpass, including a pump station, utility relocations, and associated drainage features in connection  with  the Hardy Toll Road downtown connector project in Precincts 1 and 2.

http://www.harriscountytx.gov/agenda/2018/2018-01-09ag.pdf

Work is proceeding on the first contract, which is the Collingsworth overpass. The photo below was taken December 24.



http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20171224-0027-1600.jpg

Chris

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I noticed that Houston has new Google Earth imagery dated October 29, 2017. They are demolishing the Elysian Street viaduct. Is that related to the Hardy Toll Road extension?

MaxConcrete

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The Elysian viaduct is a separate project, and I don't know if the Elysian viaduct work is needed to accommodate the Hardy Toll Road extension. The official web page for the Elysian viaduct project (and its fact sheet) does not mention the Hardy Toll Road extension. http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/houston/elysian-viaduct.html

Since the Hardy Toll Road extension will connect into the Elysian Viaduct, it makes sense to have the Elysian Viaduct work completed in advance of the toll road.

Here are some Elysian Viaduct demolition photos I took on December 24.


This shows a section awaiting demolition. http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20171224-0003-elysian-1600.jpg


A different view of the section shown in the image above http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20171224-0022-elysian-1600.jpg


Piers for the new structure. This is just south of IH 10.  http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20171224-0015-elysian-1600.jpg


Demolition, looking north from south of Buffalo Bayou, with the bayou bridge still intact ahead. http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20171224-0013-elysian-1600.jpg

MaxConcrete

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News report about the extension. Contracts for construction of the main lanes are scheduled to be awarded in 2019.

https://abc13.com/4329362/

rte66man

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BUMP

Any updates on this going out for bids?
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MaxConcrete

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Any updates on this going out for bids?

http://www.hardyconnector.org/schedule.html

According the to project web site, the contract for the main lanes is now set for 2020, so there appears to be 1-year delay.

I drove through the area recently and the the Lorraine underpass work is just getting started, and that's the only work in progress right now.

rte66man

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I could not find anything on their site about Cavalcade.  Will the toll road cross over it?
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MaxConcrete

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Work on the Lorraine underpass is proceeding very quickly. Just a few months ago it looked like little or nothing was happening, and now the railroad overpass is done, and excavation is nearly done! The railroad overpass has four tracks, and space for a fifth.

According to the official schedule the project is slated to be done in June 2020, and I think they can complete the job well before June if they want to. Or, they may coast for the remaining work to pave Lorraine.

This photo also shows an abutment on the left side, which must be for the Toll Road main lanes.

jlwm

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This is project is being shelved according to Dug Begley on Twitter.

?s=20
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MaxConcrete

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This is project is being shelved according to Dug Begley on Twitter.

?s=20

Yes, I'm afraid this is correct.

The new county judge (Lina Hidalgo) is generally anti-car and anti-road. Several months ago there was a Harris County Commissioners Court agenda item to study shelving or canceling the project. That's probably a necessary formality since they've already spent a lot on this project, I'm thinking at least $100 million.

With HCTRA's revenue expected to drop significantly this year, Hidalgo has a good excuse to drop the project. To add insult to injury, this week Commissioners Court voted to divert $300 million out of HCTRA immediately and then $90 million per year to non-transportation budgets. It's the new reality with a democrat-controlled Commissioner's court. While a few previous commitments like the 225/8 interchange will be honored, I think we're seeing the end of expansion of the Harris County Toll Road system. HCTRA was managed financially conservatively for a long time, and the new majority is looking to harvest that money for non-HCTRA purposes.
https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Harris-County-may-create-corporation-to-free-up-15569039.php

Is it permanently dead? It's hard to say. If republicans regain control it would likely be revived, but that seems unlikely given demographic trends.

Plutonic Panda

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension crossings for (apparently) shelved project
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2020, 04:33:58 PM »

Well that just sucks ass. I thought judges weren’t supposed to be biased.  :spin:
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension crossings for (apparently) shelved project
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2020, 09:20:09 PM »

Would the toll road extension have been a "crucial" link in the Houston roadway system? After all, the Interstate 69/US 59 freeway is just to the east of where the HTR extension would have been.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension crossings for (apparently) shelved project
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2020, 09:56:00 PM »

Would the toll road extension have been a "crucial" link in the Houston roadway system? After all, the Interstate 69/US 59 freeway is just to the east of where the HTR extension would have been.

I would not classify it as a "crucial" link. Calling it "nice to have" would probably be more accurate. That's probably one reason why it was continuously deferred since the adjacent section of the Hardy Toll Road opened in 1988.

I also think it may not have been able to pay for itself, but instead was viewed as a link in system connectivity for downtown access. There always was a HCTRA project with a higher priority.

The project is still included in the HGAC 10-year plan which was updated two days ago and it lists the project at $250 million for fiscal year 2023. The official web site still lists the start as Sept 2021 (which is FY 2022).
http://www.h-gac.com/ten-year-plan/documents/fy-2021-draft-ten-year-plan.pdf
http://www.hardyconnector.org/schedule.html

 I suppose that means HCTRA has not made an official decision about the cancellation or shelving. I think they need to complete the formal study.

Henry

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension crossings for (apparently) shelved project
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2020, 10:33:23 AM »

This is like the Goat Path Expressway all over again! Except it's in a concrete jungle...
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Chris

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension crossings for (apparently) shelved project
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2020, 02:39:52 PM »

I would not classify it as a "crucial" link. Calling it "nice to have" would probably be more accurate. That's probably one reason why it was continuously deferred since the adjacent section of the Hardy Toll Road opened in 1988.

The overall traffic patterns have also changed since then. The relative importance of downtown access within the regional freeway and tollway system has been greatly reduced since the early days of freeway construction. A much smaller share of traffic is going to a downtown destination out of all metropolitan traffic than 50 years ago. The Hardy Toll Road was built with this old mindset of downtown access, but is it still relevant / required today?

If I recall correctly, the Hardy Toll Road was not profitable for a long time, not many people were willing to pay tolls outside of the congested hours on I-45 and the traffic volumes were tidal at the time (inbound in the morning, outbound in the evening). I believe the Sam Houston Tollway gained popularity much quicker than the Hardy Toll Road, as it served circumferential trips between suburban areas, which became the dominant commuting pattern.

I think it's also quite telling that there never has been a real push to extend the Katy managed lanes all the way to Downtown Houston. I believe I-10 is still in its original configuration between I-610 and I-45. And the I-45 north project has plans for express lanes in both direction, as opposed the traditional reversible lanes. This is due to reversed commuting or most people simply just passing by Downtown Houston to another location.

rte66man

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension crossings for (apparently) shelved project
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2020, 03:23:52 PM »

I would not classify it as a "crucial" link. Calling it "nice to have" would probably be more accurate. That's probably one reason why it was continuously deferred since the adjacent section of the Hardy Toll Road opened in 1988.

The overall traffic patterns have also changed since then. The relative importance of downtown access within the regional freeway and tollway system has been greatly reduced since the early days of freeway construction. A much smaller share of traffic is going to a downtown destination out of all metropolitan traffic than 50 years ago. The Hardy Toll Road was built with this old mindset of downtown access, but is it still relevant / required today?

If I recall correctly, the Hardy Toll Road was not profitable for a long time, not many people were willing to pay tolls outside of the congested hours on I-45 and the traffic volumes were tidal at the time (inbound in the morning, outbound in the evening). I believe the Sam Houston Tollway gained popularity much quicker than the Hardy Toll Road, as it served circumferential trips between suburban areas, which became the dominant commuting pattern.

I think it's also quite telling that there never has been a real push to extend the Katy managed lanes all the way to Downtown Houston. I believe I-10 is still in its original configuration between I-610 and I-45. And the I-45 north project has plans for express lanes in both direction, as opposed the traditional reversible lanes. This is due to reversed commuting or most people simply just passing by Downtown Houston to another location.

You are correct about I-10. That portion wasn't opened until the early 70's and has changed very little since then. Wasn't much of a need to change as it had 10 lanes to begin with.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #20 on: December 03, 2020, 09:02:46 PM »

This item appeared in the agenda for this week's meeting of Harris County Commissioners Court https://agenda.harriscountytx.gov/2020/2020-12-01ag.pdf

Quote
"Recommendation for authorization to seek statements of interest and qualifications from firms capable of conducting and fulfilling a planning and conceptual design process for Phase II of the Hardy Toll Road downtown connector project in Precincts 1 and 2, and that the TRA be authorized to work with any necessary county department to enable the planning and conceptual design process"

So it appears that HCTRA has not yet made a decision to kill the project. But the purpose of this "planning and conceptual design process" is not clear to me, since the project design is almost surely ready and complete since it was scheduled to go to bid this year.

This process could be a mechanism to allow the anti-highway folks, especially the large and vocal anti-NHHIP crowd, to come out in force against the project, which would give Harris County cover to kill it. Or it could be a legitimate effort to enhance the design. The process will probably take a while, I'm thinking at least 2 years, which would push back the earliest possible start some more.

Bobby5280

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2020, 08:49:48 PM »

A lot can happen in 2 years of time. Just look at what has gone on since March!

Houston hasn't seen quite as much a stratospheric run-up of housing prices as urban centers on the East and West coasts. Nevertheless, living costs have become ridiculously high in Texas' urban centers. We're just now getting into "the good part" of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We're months away at the soonest from knowing what the final death toll and costs to the economy will be. In the months and years ahead I'm sure those consequences are going to have an effect on the New Urbanism stuff, which seems increasingly out of touch. Big public works projects, like building new bridges and highways, can act to both stimulate a lagging economy and give the general public a sense of progress taking place.
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bwana39

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Quote

Yes, I'm afraid this is correct.

The new county judge (Lina Hidalgo) is generally anti-car and anti-road. Several months ago there was a Harris County Commissioners Court agenda item to study shelving or canceling the project. That's probably a necessary formality since they've already spent a lot on this project, I'm thinking at least $100 million.

With HCTRA's revenue expected to drop significantly this year, Hidalgo has a good excuse to drop the project. To add insult to injury, this week Commissioners Court voted to divert $300 million out of HCTRA immediately and then $90 million per year to non-transportation budgets. It's the new reality with a democrat-controlled Commissioner's court. While a few previous commitments like the 225/8 interchange will be honored, I think we're seeing the end of expansion of the Harris County Toll Road system. HCTRA was managed financially conservatively for a long time, and the new majority is looking to harvest that money for non-HCTRA purposes.
https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Harris-County-may-create-corporation-to-free-up-15569039.php

Is it permanently dead? It's hard to say. If republicans regain control it would likely be revived, but that seems unlikely given demographic trends.

That is why NTTA is a multi-jusisdictional authority. While one group could make major changes in whom they send to the authority, the single or perhaps a couple of votes do not kill everything. 

Every county in Texas has exactly 4 commissioners and a single County Judge (Presiding officer of the Commissioners' Court; the legislative body of the county.) One vote swing and everything can change. The legislature can and probably should force the county to divest itself of the total overall authority over the HCTRA.  There would probably still be a few hiccups, but it could be done.

[quote ]

Would the toll road extension have been a "crucial" link in the Houston roadway system? After all, the Interstate 69/US 59 freeway is just to the east of where the HTR extension would have been.

[/quote]

The I-69 / US59 Freeway is not new by any stretch of the imagination. While the I-69 designation is new; this has been an ever expanding freeway since the seventies or farther back. By pointing out what I mean is that this does not enhance capacity so as to make the Hardy Toll Road unneeded.

[quote ]

Well that just sucks ass. I thought judges weren’t supposed to be biased.  :spin:

[/quote]

The County Judge is PRIMARILY the presiding  officer of the "Commissioners' Court" ; the legislative body of each Texas County. In smaller counties, the County Judge also presides over the County Court at Law. This Court hears the probate,  family court issues (sometimes), and State Jail Felonies (as opposed to State Prison Felonies which are heard in District Court). I am relatively sure there is a SEPARATE County Court at Law in Harris County. This would make her a Judge in title only.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2020, 01:02:20 PM by bwana39 »
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Stephane Dumas

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Re: Houston: Hardy Toll Road extension status
« Reply #23 on: December 07, 2020, 02:15:11 PM »

This is like the Goat Path Expressway all over again! Except it's in a concrete jungle...

It reminds me also of the Ville-Marie Autoroute in Montreal. http://www.montrealroads.com/roads/A-720/
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