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MaxConcrete last won the day on March 18 2017

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  1. 59 - 610 Interchange Partial Rebuild
  2. KLM Ends 747 Service to IAH

    Photos from January 2016. Unless KLM resurrects 747 service, we'll never see this view again.
  3. Midtown Sears to Become Houston's Innovation District

    You are correct, the first planned construction of the overall downtown and IH 45 project is the section of IH 69 in Midtown. My perception (based on speaking to representatives at public meetings) is that they are proceeding full speed with design and will be ready for immediate work on right-of-way acquisition when the Record of Decision is received, which is expected this year. But I also heard that there is a last-ditch effort by northside interests to derail the entire project, which could delay the ROD, perhaps substantially.
  4. Amazon HQ2

    Unfortunately some interests are going to use the Amazon situation to promote more rail, when in fact Houston having less rail than other cities was almost surely a negligible factor. 1. Analyses like fail to mention that our proposed sites were poor. Generation Park is a nonstarter due to location, East River is extremely rough (and a dump in my opinion), and there is no obvious good site in the recently-hatched "innovation corridor". 2. As the bisnow article mentioned, our technical workforce is substantially incompatible with Amazon's needs. Houston is rich in chemical/process engineers, medical researchers, energy-related engineers, energy-related sciences like geophysics, and NASA-related space/aerospace. Our workforce has speciality/niche technical skills, while Amazon needs the kind of workforce that the mainstream technology industry uses (mostly programmers), and any number of cities have a workforce more geared to mainstream technology. 3. Houston's incentives appear to be weak compared to the competition. While there really was nothing for Houston to lose because we were never in the game due to the incompatible workforce, this could turn into a loss for Houston if it results in billions of dollars being squandered on new light rail with very low ridership like the green and purple lines.
  5. Amazon HQ2

    No conclusions about Houston's viability and relevance can be made unless Amazon releases details of their decision-making process, including criteria where Houston ranked poorly. It is very possible Houston was eliminated due to natural disaster risk (i.e. hurricanes and flooding).
  6. Amazon HQ2

    From the Wall Street Journal
  7. Amazon HQ2

    Amazon is negotiating for 500,000 sf of office space in downtown Boston, which matches the initial requirement in the project specification, and they are also negotiating for another building for the next 500,000 sf. This is seems to be the best clue that has emerged so far about a possible winner. This report in the Dallas Morning News says the large office space requirement is separate from HQ2. So maybe this space is for HQ2, or it could be a technology hub separate from HQ2. There have been reports since the process started that Amazon executives favored Boston, and there is going to be a large presence in Boston even if this office space is not for HQ2.
  8. Beltway 8 / Ship Channel Bridge Replacement In the HCTRA contract document (, the cost is listed at $567,911,750.40, well below the cost estimate of $612 million.
  9. Amazon HQ2

    Actually, nothing is publicly known about which cities are still in the running. That report from CNBC gave Houston a B- for meeting Amazon's criteria, but the CNBC analysis has nothing to do with Amazon's decision-making process. So Houston (or any other viable city) can't make any assumptions about still being in the competition. I have not seen any news reports about the status of Amazon's analysis, and it's possible any short list (if there even will be a short list) is weeks or months in the future. Of course it is also possible that Amazon is secretly negotiating with short list sites, but nothing is publicly known.
  10. Hanover River Oaks - 39 Stories

  11. Elysian Viaduct removal

    Photos were taken December 24
  12. New Mixed-Use Project - Texas Instrument Facility Site

    Site work is underway along West Airport. The perimeter street is mostly removed along West Airport, but is still intact on the rest of the property. There is no site work in progress anywhere else on the property. The contractor is Burton Construction. Demolition of the main building structure has not started. (Interior demolition may be ongoing.)
  13. High Speed Rail / Texas Triangle

    The official HGAC document updated in January 2017 says "Please note, this revised interim lane configuration [on US 290] does not alter the ultimate improvements proposed for the corridor, which include construction of a 4-lane managed lane roadway along Hempstead Rd to accommodate high-occupancy and toll users. Implementation of the ultimate project scope, as documented in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision(ROD), continues to be proposed within the 2040 RTP and is anticipated to be open to traffic by the 2035 milestone year." The HGAC long term project listing and corridor overview both show the project, with very different costs, $1.1 billion on the corridor page and $2.7 billion on the project listing, which appears to be year-of-expenditure inflated cost. Whether it actually gets built will depend on numerous factors: if Texas Central is built (which makes the toll road more costly and less likely), the amount of congestion on US 290, the availability of a funding sponsor (HCTRA is probably not interested, private funding would be the best chance or maybe TxDOT depending on the political climate), and whether any high-capacity transit is planned or built in the corridor. So what are the chances it gets built? It's really difficult to predict. Definitely not a sure thing. I would say 50-50 chance it gets built by 2035.
  14. High Speed Rail / Texas Triangle

    The DEIS is massive and I've been sifting through it to try to find items of interest. The recommended alignment (alternative A) between Houston and Dallas is the westernmost alignment (not the Interstate 45 alignment). I'm glad to see that recommendation. Alternative A is 234.4 miles long with 21 miles at grade level, 77.4 miles on embankment and 135.9 miles on viaduct. This high percentage of viaduct (58%) is surprising to me and will surely be expensive. (Reference document 1 ES 9.2) Document 2 has depictions of the structure along the route, including the Houston area Document 31 has travel times. Initial service would be at 186 MPH, with a travel time of 86 minutes including the Brazos Valley stop. Future upgrades to 205 MPH would provide a travel time of 80 minutes. The track curves are designed to support 205 MPH on the full length. Details of the viaduct design in Houston are in document 34. The elevated structure normally has a vertical clearance between the ground and its lower edge of around 30 feet. The structure thickness is around 12 feet, and the catenary poles are 13m (43 feet) for a total typical height of around 85 feet. Starting at the Houston station If the Houston station is at the Katy Transit center, it may be difficult or impractical to ever extend the train into downtown Houston due to a needed sharp turn and proximity to Memorial Park. From Loop 610 to Gessner, the viaduct uses the south side of the Hempstead Road right of way (along the north edge of the Union Pacific right-of-way), using about 35 feet for the column positioning. The elevated structure does not infringe into the Union Pacific right-of-way. To maintain the current lanes on Hempstead Road, extra pavement will need to be added on the north side of the road. The viaduct crosses over to the south side of the Union Pacific railroad west of Gessner, and then goes underneath Beltway 8, touching ground level. It goes back to viaduct immediately after going under BW 8. West of BW 8, The alignment is on the south edge of the Union Pacific right-of-way West of FM 529, the viaduct is at a higher elevation with a ground clearance around 42 feet. Ground clearance increases to about 60 feet at SH 6. Total height is around 60 + 12 + 43= 115 feet Ground clearance returns to typical after SH 6, but is somewhat higher at Telge (40 feet) and Barker Cypress (55 feet) The track veers away from the Union Pacific/US 290 corridor at Fry Road, and the viaduct ends just west of Fry Road where the track returns to ground level for a while until it goes over SH 99 (Grand Parkway). After the Grand Parkway crossing it goes back to ground level until going back onto a long viaduct to cross Hempstead Road and US 290. The rail viaduct generally uses right-of-way that was slated for the proposed Hempstead Toll Road. So if the Hempstead Tollway is built, its right-of-way is pushed further north inside BW 8, and further south outside BW 8. This will surely increase property displacements and cost, but it is hard to say if the impact is minor or major. The Northwest Mall station location may be incompatible with the preliminary design for the Hempstead Tollway. Another difficult spot will be around Beltway 8, where the toll road would need to cross over the rail line. Overall, I think the high speed rail project will make the Hempstead Toll Road more difficult and expensive to build, and therefore less likely to be built.
  15. Wolfe Nursery

    I definitely remember the location at 8603 Westheimer, since in the 1980s Westheimer was somewhat of a cruising strip and I was out there often. (Lower Westheimer was the main cruise zone and often clogged.) What I remember is that the Wolfe parking lot was a hangout for the pickup truck crowd, which was the crowd that was called the "kikkers" at Sharpstown High School. I seem to remember typically seeing a gathering of pickup trucks on the parking lot late at night.