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DNAguy

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DNAguy last won the day on May 23 2014

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  1. My take: 1.) SB 45 connector does not need 3 lanes past the midtown / Bagby exit. It would seem highly unlikely that there is enough traffic demand for east / west downtown south downtown / upper midtown lanes coming from I10 or 45. 2.) The McKinney to Lamar St road along bayou not needed. Downtown street grid is sufficient. Plus it will add more area to the park and allow for almost unmolested access from the hike/bike bayou trail to City Hall, Sam Houston Park, and the Public Library. 3.) The eastbound Allen Prkway to NB connector cloverleaf on-ramp needs to go. The demand for this direct ramp do no support the real-estate it takes up. Considering that it would take ~ 5 more minutes to require folks to take two lefts (Dallas @ Bagby and Bagby @ Walker), I can't see how tying up real-estate that could be sold to a developer for a skyscraper makes sense. I would say that a compromise might be that a direct connector from Westbound W. Dallas St to the NB connector lanes. This would add another outlet for western downtown traffic and the folks on Allen Parkway would then just turn right at Clay / W Dallas. It would take some land acquisition from the parking lot, but also
  2. This is incorrect. HCTRA has a financial agreement with TxDOT that they receive a portion of the toll revenue from 290. Originally HCTRA agreed to contribute ~ $400 mill to the 290 project to speed up its competition. For this $400 mill, HCTRA would own and operate 3 bi-directional managed lanes (HOT/HOV) with 100% of the maintenance cost being the responsibility of HCTRA and 100% of the revenue going to HCTRA. However, the state's financial situation changed after the agreement was reached. Subsequent bond measures were passed that "freed" up $$ for TxDOT. TxDOT no longer needed the money so badly to get the project completed in the expedited timeframe. In addition, mounting issues with building / engineering a 3 reversible lane configuration led HCTRA to try and find a more tenable deal with TxDOT. TxDOT and HCTRA came to agreement that: 1.) Halved HCTRA's contribution to the 290 project ($200 mil instead of $400) 2.) Reduced the managed lanes from 3 to 1 3.) Ceded control of the 290 managed lane to TxDOT and therefore shifted maintenance / upkeep to TxDOT 4.) Ensured a HCTRA a percentage of the tolled revenue (IDK what the final % was, though) In addition / as part of the agreement, HCTRA also: 5.) Ceded control of the I10 managed lanes to TxDOT and therefore shifted maintenance / upkeep to TxDOT 6.) Locked in 1/3 of the I10 managed lanes revenue in perpetuity So now HCTRA doesn't manage or control any tolled lanes outside of the southern tolled section of 249, the northern part of the Fort bend tollway, and most of the Westpark tollway. And of course the entire Sam Houston and the Hardy tollroads. I don't think the facts support your representation of HCTRA as being a malignant force or the tollroad offshoot of SPECTRE
  3. Looks like they're removing trees / vegitation at the 288-610 interchange as of yesterday. Sorry no pics. Traffic was actually moving well heading west yesterday at rush hour. Sidenote: Is there a more mind-boggling bad stretch of freeway in Houston as 610 between 288 and 45/225? I'm not talking about traffic (but it sure does get bad.... Just not as bad as other stretches) per se, but the design. You can really tell that it was built to older and lower standards of freeway design. The short on ramps and off ramps, the discountinuous frontage roads, the relatively sharp curves / obstructed sight lines, and the terrible 45 interchange all create massive backups everyday that just wouldn't be there with a properly designed highway. Outside of the 45 interchange, there is some real low hanging TxDOT fruit when it comes to reducing congestion. Maybe the traffic count and the demographics of the area just don't support it.
  4. VV, Rail at HCTRA all you want, but as I said before, they only exist because voters allow them to exist. There's nothing nefarious about its existence. If you have a fundamental disagreement with their mission or actions then I suggest you start a campaign for Harris county to eliminate it. I think you'd have a tough case to prove that HCTRA is cooking the books, but I learned on Tuesday that your general mistrust in institutions / government is an extremely effective way to politic right now. I do not agree with 99.99% of what your saying, but your anger is real and government needs to start listening to it. The appointed bureaucratic institutions like HCTRA, METRO, and TIRZ's need to get ahead of this sentiment and really lobby the public at large, They need to prove their worth and be as open and transparent as possible. It's either that or they'll see to exist.
  5. HCTRA is not a private company. It's a democratically approved enterprise by Harris County. People wanted / voted for this as the state of Texas was constitutionally prohibited from building / running toll roads. If you don't like it or disagree with its mission/function, then I would try to start a ballot initiative in Harris county to repeal its existence. However, as of the late 2000's (I can't remember what year) the state of Texas now has the ability to build roads as tolled facilities by initially floating bonds and using tolls to service said bonds. In addition, the state of Texas can go further and actually give a private company exclusive rights to a tolled facility if they design and build the road in state owned / purchased ROW. So if you get rid of HCTRA, most likely you'll have less local control and possibly have private companies running the toll roads..... which is exactly what you're getting with 288. That's not a HCTRA project, that's a TxDOT project. The portion in Brazoria county is not, however. That is the Brazoria county analogue to HCTRA. If you take the state's ability to build, sanction, or run toll facilities then you have no new roads. So if your gripe is with toll roads in general, then bitching about HCTRA is sort of misplaced. Tolls fill in a funding gaps. Current tax levels cannot support the maintenance on existing roads. To be able to service current roads and build new ones for the growing population would require a large increase in taxes through some sort of increased registration fee, gas tax, mileage tax, or carbon tax of some sort. If you're not ok with that, then HCTRA and TxDOT have to fill in the funding with something.... like a usage fee.... which is exactly what a toll is. There are arguments that say this is actually the fairest way to fund roads as those who use it, pay for it. There are a lot of nuances to this argument. "tolls=bad" doesn't scratch the surface.
  6. My thoughts FWIW: To my knowledge, this is a design-build project much like the southern section of SH130 south of Austin.... at least to the Brazoria county line. After that, its all on the Brazoria equivalent of HCTRA. Therefore, no concessions were made to allow for HOV's to use the toll lanes. This is a large mistake and is worth derision. However, I do feel as if this is a good deal for TxDOT and tax payers as they don't have to pay for the upgrade ... the engineering company has exclusive toll rights for like 60 years. In addition, they throw in upgrades to the 610 and Beltway 8 interchanges. That's a pretty nice bonus. I say its probably the best use of this agreement because there is still a "free" option to drive on that not frontage roads and is actually grade separated highway. The toll company can't "force" you to use the toll lanes as they could if a new highway was being put in. That reduces the likelihood of huge price increases on tolls and adds a downward pressure on pricing. Full disclosure: I like trains. I like commuter trains and hope Houston eventually gets them. I like how when I go to Europe, DC, NY, etc that I don't need a car and train + uber seems to work well. However, trains in the middle of freeways (and this one especially) don't work all the at well. Where would the stops be? How would people get to them? Right now commuter trains don't make sense for Brazoria county. However, we need to preserve / start movement on the existing tracks along FM 521 and Mykawa Rd / Tx35. Maybe one day, those alignments can be used for commuter rail into the city with spurs to Hobby airport (for Mykawa) or the Medical Center (FM 521). To be honest, TxDOT, METRO, Harris County, and Houston + surrounding municipalities should be incentivizing train companies to build newer train tracks in areas outside of the suburbs and city if / when possible. If that were the case, then older lines / ROW within the city could be used for commuter service.
  7. So we have to hold the train to a higher standard than any / all infrastructure project.... ever?
  8. https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/2016/09/13/167934/controversial-toll-road-project-moves-closer-to-construction/
  9. Oh and due to the objection of local land owner's I thought I'd call the Bryan office of TxDOT to understand why the last alignment was chosen. One of the main questions / abnormalities that I observed when looking at the final sections' alignment was that it was completely through virgin land and not along numerous existing ROW's. I specifically called out: 1.) Continuing w/ FM 1774 w/ a Plantersville bypass 2.) Following the UP RR from Shadow Lake Subdivision to SH105 and intersect SH105 east of Stoneham I also asked if this project had taken into consideration the newly designated I-14 corridor and the possible future tie-ins to that as well as the need to upgrade SH105 from the termination of SH 249 to highway 6. The response I had can be summarized by: The current final section was routed in a more westerly direction due to objection from the Stoneham community and the increase traffic along 105 and the elementary school that resides on in if a more eastern intersection of 105 was the option. That is why a routing along FM 1774 or the UP railroad was avoided. No consideration was taken for I-14 because this planning started back in the 80's / 90's. SH 105 will need to be upgraded in the future from SH 249 terminus to the highway 6 terminus. However, there's nothing in any planning stage for that. When I asked if opposition can still affect the alignment the rep told me that due to so many starts and stops for this projects over the years, that he wouldn't be surprised by anything. Full disclosure: I think the section from FM 1774 to 105 is a horrendous alignment. The road needs to follow the railroad tracks alignments to SH 105 as there is little development along it and it doesn't take much land from home owners. If you really want to reduce traffic along SH105, then you could try and follow the UP railroad to the Atchinson & Sante Fe railroad alignment all to the way to HIghway 6 and have a direct intersection w/ highway 6 to avoid dropping traffic on SH 105 all together. I think that when it comes to objections from the public, that TxDOT does listen. I just think their conclusions are lazy, lack critical thinking, and create solutions that have even more problems. Is putting a tolled facility in virgin country really the best solution for this part of the state? Or is upgrading capacity along existing ROW's really the best solution?
  10. I couldn't find an actual topic on SH 249 (Tomball parkway) and its expansion up to ~ Navasota. So here's some background for anyone interested: HCTRA expanded SH249 to Tomball as Phase 1 of a multi-phase extension of SH249. This was completed and opened in 2015. https://hctra.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=527d9322e2244039b0bc3e93fe2c4fc1 The plan is for SH249 to ultimately terminate at SH 105 roughly close to Navasota, hence the nickname the "Aggie Tollway" or "Aggie Highway". This extension seems to be broken up between the Houston TxDOT office and the Bryan TxDOT office. The Houston office is over the section from the current terminus to Todd's Mission. http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/houston/sh249-extension.html The Bryan office is over the section from Todd's Mission to ~ Navasota... well actually SH 105 east of Navasota and west of Plantersville / Stoneham. http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/bryan/sh249.html However, it seems as if there is "significant" local opposition to the last segment of the project from Todd's Mission to SH 105: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/Texas-249-growth-proceeding-despite-vocal-6234179.php http://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/2015/05/01/59957/txdot-to-move-ahead-with-249-toll-road-despite-local-opposition-2/ https://communityimpact.com/houston/news/2015/12/11/txdot-holds-public-meeting-on-updated-hwy-249-extension-plan/ Here are two more recent articles as well: https://www.texastribune.org/2016/07/03/grimes-county-residents-turn-out-against-toll-road/ https://www.texastribune.org/2016/07/21/rural-land-owner-preps-sue-state-transportation-de/
  11. In addition, they're not going to meet the job targets that would need to happen.
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