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Everything posted by rechlin

  1. Maybe not on the sales side, but on the service side, after you get the repair bill you might change your mind.
  2. The survey link is here (there was a QR code with this address on the video, and it's also linked from the main project site): https://ridemetro.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4SJWbsekHAVTR9c
  3. Only a little. The rendering shows they are largely going to be building this in the parking lot southwest of the mall. It appears they would tear down the First Horizon Bank and the building that appears to be vacant at the northeast corner of Gessner and Barryknoll, and then just the very western part of the enclosed mall (mostly the former Sears, but also some smaller places like American Girl, Old Navy, and the ice skating area), but otherwise it's just going to be in the parking lot of the existing mall. Present: Proposed:
  4. There are two houses on Bissonnet at the southeast corner of the intersection with Westchester that have been owned by St. Andrews Presbyterian Church for some time. Apparently the church has been using them for child care services. The church is currently requesting zoning relief to have reduced setbacks and more impervious area on the front yard for these lots. I wonder if they are planning to tear down these two old houses and replace them with a purpose-built facility?
  5. I wanted to like Finn Hall, I really did. But their most interesting place (Mala Sichuan) quickly went downhill (switching to more American Chinese, which we don't need more of downtown) and then closed, and always the prices at all the vendors were too high, so I haven't eaten there in a long time now. I'd rather spend $12 for lunch than $20.
  6. I've done the Air New Zealand flight from Houston in coach. It's really not that bad, but I've been on some other long non-stops in coach too so maybe I'm used to it (Houston-Beijing, Houston-Dubai, Newark-Mumbai). They had an unusual option where 2 people could buy 3 coach seats in select rows and basically get a lie-flat bed for two out of it, which I've not seen on any other airline. I didn't do that (I was flying solo), but if I went again I'd probably take advantage of that for the 15 hour flight, if they are still doing it.
  7. I've seen underpasses built under active rail lines before, with minimal service interruption. I would assume (hope?) that TxDOT would do the same here.
  8. Sorry for the potato-cam view but I forgot my real camera at home. Work on this development is visible from downtown:
  9. Looks like they are doing some major exterior renovations here. Scaffolding is up on the entire side facing Main. Maybe replacing windows?
  10. There is an elevator facing Phoenicia that is open to get up to the Shops level. Note that the adjacent stairs there do not work -- the door is inexplicably locked at the Shops level so you'll have to walk all the way back down again and then take the elevator if you make the same mistake as I made of trying the steps. Unfortunately the Fulbright tower is also under renovation now, so you can't use the escalators there to get up to the Shops level either. There's an elevator in the far back of that also, which seems to be the only way I found to get up. Access to the Shops is just really terrible now, but there are at least two elevators to get to them.
  11. Link for the lazy: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/14/climate/bayou-dave-trash-cleanup.html Great story indeed. Thanks for pointing it out.
  12. rechlin

    511 Main St.

    The "hot" area for bars and clubs in Houston seems to move periodically, I guess as people get bored with an area and want to move to the new "trendy" area. Over the decades it has been Main Street, Midtown, Richmond Ave, and Washington Ave, some multiple times. I've never been a club person so I don't know which of those is hot at present; maybe nothing is hot right now with so much lost to COVID. I agree that this area of Main would perhaps be the best place for an evening entertainment district to just remain indefinitely, but some patrons can be finicky and don't want to go to a place that isn't up-and-coming anymore.
  13. Cars already can't be stored on the street; they have to be moved every 24 hours or be towed, per Houston city ordinance. This means that any residence (including garage apartments) already needs off-street parking if the residents want to own cars, because you can't realistically move your parked car every single day.
  14. Sichuan food is good, but it's too bad that's the only Chinese cuisine that seems to be spreading. Last year the only Jiangsu (population: 80 million) restaurant that I knew of in Chinatown closed, and the only good examples of Shaanxi (population: 40 million) food that I could find have closed too. China has dozens of different cuisines, and I'm glad we have more than just American Chinese and Cantonese food here, but it's a bit boring that we have at least half a dozen Sichuan restaurants near me in the west half of the loop but few from elsewhere.
  15. Wear on roads increases by the CUBE (not just square) of the increase in weight, so I really don't understand why vehicle registration fees aren't more affected by the weight of the vehicle. Fees should go up by the cube of the increase in weight. For toll roads (to keep this topical...), they go by axles, which helps but is still a poor proxy since an extra axle can actually reduce wear. Maybe weight divided by number of wheels, since more wheels/axles distributes the weight better to reduce wear. I think that, for example, vehicle registration on a 6000 pound SUV should be 2*2*2 = 8 times the registration fee of a 3000 pound subcompact car, for example, to account for the increase in wear on roads. Similarly, the registration fee of a 5000 pound electric large sedan should be 1.25*1.25*1.25 = 1.95 times the registration fee of a 4000 pound regular non-electric large sedan.
  16. I have no idea why they did the website switch, because the new txdot.gov/nhhip.html site is a convoluted mess, which requires way too much clicking and scrolling, compared to the much more friendly ih45northandmore.com site. Fortunately, it does seem most/all of the old information is still on the new site, even if it's not easy to find. Just go here and click "Show All" below "Newsletters" and you can find the documents: https://www.txdot.gov/nhhip/updates.html If you still want to use the old site, it's on the Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20220120064733/http://www.ih45northandmore.com/
  17. @EaDo Louis largely correct here. The aerial photo is recent, but the 3D models of buildings were mostly auto-generated (sometimes hand-generated, or maybe a combination of the two) based on an old aerial photo. Google Earth defaults to showing the old 3D models even when you are viewing the current imagery. Unfortunately Google has not made much effort to update the 3D models in recent years so they are getting increasingly mismatched from the aerial view. Remember when Google Maps let you look at the imagery from 45 degree angles and rotate around to see from 4 different directions? Those are the images used for these models, probably about a decade ago.
  18. If the widening or creation of a freeway makes people more comfortable with moving farther out, that means they will be driving more miles, using more freeway capacity, than they would otherwise have. That is induced demand. The danger here is that it encourages sprawl, which is the opposite of what we want in a modern city. As you acknowledge, I wasn't using that as a reason to oppose this project, because I don't think induced demand is a major factor with this particular project, but it is still a real thing that we should be aware of.
  19. I've been following this project for many years now, spending countless hours poring over the schematic maps, and many, many, many hours skimming the EIS (hundreds and hundreds of pages). It's just something that has been of big interest to me because it will affect so much in this city for decades to come, and because I spend a lot of time in or near the downtown area. And I say this even as someone who almost never drives on IH-45 (I think I haven't even driven on it all year so far!). It's certainly not perfect, but there's a lot of good in this project. Yes, some people will have changes forced upon them that they won't like, but they will be compensated, and that is the price of progress. I'm a regular rider of METRO buses and rail, and I am particularly excited about this project adding multiple bidirectional HOV (or potentially HOT) lanes to greatly improve the reliability of bus service along the corridor. This project also will be tightly coupled to the BRT lines that METRO will be building, especially the one to IAH. IH-45 is one of the most dangerous interstate highways around, and this project goes a long way to improving safety on the Houston portion of it, by adding or widening shoulders, reconfiguring ramps to minimize weaving, and more. Induced demand is a real thing, and people use that as an excuse to fight this project, but in reality, very little is being done to add extra lanes for regular traffic -- most of the route will either have the same number of regular (non-high-occupancy) lanes in each direction or just one more. Everyone knows that traffic will never actually get faster long-term, but at the same time it's true the new road will allow more people to travel on it every day. A lot of attention is being paid to flood mitigation, too, so this project should mean fewer problems due to flooding, not more. And the replacement of a number of low bridges should mean a huge reduction in the number of incidents of trucks hitting bridges and shutting down the freeway for hours. The trenched roadways in Segment 3 along with caps (upon which parks will hopefully -- and quite likely -- be funded) will greatly reduce the psychological barriers that were created when these highways were first built. There are a couple places where bridges crossing the freeways will be lost, but they will be more than made up for by improved crossings elsewhere. The barriers between Fourth Ward and Downtown, between Midtown and Downtown, between East Downtown and Downtown, and between Midtown and the Museum District will all be reduced compared to now. The barriers in Segments 1 and 2 will admittedly be essentially unchanged, though. Great attention, particularly on the side opposing this project, is being paid to the apartment residents (particularly in subsidized, low-income housing) who will be displaced by this project. But many of them have actually already been displaced or will be displaced regardless of whether this project goes through, and the new housing provided for them will be better quality and not far away from what they have now. And all the land being acquired is right along the freeway already -- it's not like neighborhoods are being split up to build this (unlike what was shamefully done when these freeways were first built). I do think there are things that still need to be addressed. A very long list of requests have been made for improvements (posted earlier in this thread), and it does seem TxDOT and other parties are intending to incorporate many of them into the project. Many of them are good ideas and are feasible. But somehow this has been translated by some into a desire to stop the project entirely. A big one from the list that I would personally like to see is the proposed re-routing of the UPRR near downtown. The former "Be Someone" bridge will have to be rebuilt for this project anyway, and the North Canal project (not a part of this project but still intertwined) affects the rail route too, so by using a slightly different alignment and acquiring a little right-of-way, the barriers in the Warehouse District and the West End will be greatly minimized with the removal of tracks. Again, I don't live in either of those neighborhoods, but I can see how it will benefit them. However, and this is the real cause of my frustration leading me to making this post, because I am not opposed to this project, I have been variously accused (mostly on reddit, admittedly) of working for (or even owning) a construction company, working for TxDOT, and working for other Houston organizations interested in making this happen. None of that is true. It seems many of those who are opposed to the project just default to calling anyone in favor a "shill" and don't seem to believe anyone could be in favor without being financially vested in it. It's so frustrating that people can't speak positively of this project without receiving personal attacks. And the reasons they give for opposition are almost always disproven by things written in places like the EIS, or else just speculation with nothing to back it. Yes, as with anything infrastructure-related, this is a tremendously expensive project, which is one of the few remotely valid reasons to be opposed to it, but the more it gets delayed, the more it's going to cost. Regardless, something has to be done about the highways involved, and nobody has yet presented any better alternatives. The evolution of the design over the decade of so of presentations has shown a lot of improvement, and overall I think it's very clear the benefits outweigh the negatives. Any name-calling or unjustified attacks between people on both sides of this debate need to stop. Instead we should just look at the facts as they are now. Not things that happened in the past and can't be changed, not things that will happen regardless, but things that will happen if this project goes through and won't happen if it does not. Look at the EIS and other sources of real information, not speculation, and then we can talk. TL;DR: stop fighting, look at the facts
  20. rechlin

    511 Main St.

    Already have a thread here; moderators please merge:
  21. I got a photo. It seems they are just using it for parking at the moment:
  22. Very interesting. Thanks for finding and sharing this. Just a bit of a summary of the 3 concepts: All move the Wheeler light rail station on top of a trenched IH-69. This, of course, is dependent on the federal government ending its hold on the highway project, caused by a bunch of people who seem to think rebuilding the highways is racist or something Two of the options have the BRT line cross with grade separation from the light rail (one above, one below). The third would have an at-grade crossing, which would mean frequent delays while waiting for the train to cross. Hopefully the BRT would get signal priority in this third case, because at present, sometimes bus 25 has to wait for several minutes for the lights to cycle after trains cross All would add an indoor (or at least covered) transit center for buses, as well as bike storage I personally think the option with below-grade BRT (confusingly labeled as "At-Grade") would be the best, by far. The above-grade BRT ("Elevated") would also be OK, but it would involve a bit of a round-about approach at crossing, causing extra turns on and off of Richmond/Wheeler, meaning more delays for BRT riders, whereas the below-grade BRT would be a straight-through route. Also, elevated infrastructure is visually much more imposing/menacing than trenched infrastructure. The at-grade BRT ("Transit Mall") seems the worst to me, because of the rail crossing issue I mentioned above. Of course, the below-grade BRT option probably would be the most expensive too! I hope that whatever design they pick, the canopies extend between the bus areas and the rail area, so passengers can transfer without getting rained on. From page 54 of the report: And a few more renderings of the three options from the report:
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