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MaxConcrete

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MaxConcrete last won the day on March 18 2017

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  1. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2020/03/28/future-of-dallas-houston-bullet-train-uncertain-after-company-lays-off-more-than-two-dozen-employees-due-to-coronavirus/ I think the key word is "uncertain". With capital markets disrupted and investors probably more conscious of the risks of investments which pack people closely together, it may become difficult to raise the 15+ billion needed for the project. It's also unclear how the situation will affect interest rates for higher-risk bonds like Texas Central. If interest rates go up, the project may become economically infeasible.
  2. Even if expanded freeways do not eliminate peak-period congestion, they typically limit congestion to only the peak period. That's a big benefit. Several freeways in Houston with inadequate capacity (especially the West Loop) are congested through most of the day and on weekends. A more important benefit of expanded freeways is that they empower more people to meet their mobility needs. While I don't have exact traffic numbers for the pre-expanded Katy Freeway, it was generally in the low 200,000s. Now it serves 369,000 near BW8 (2018), which is down somewhat from the 2016 peak of 387,000.
  3. The removal of the cloverleaf at Memorial/Waugh is currently listed for year 2042 in H-GAC planning documents. It is not listed in the current 4-year or 10-year plans. See appendix D of the 2045 MTP (it should be somewhere on the H-GAC site, I have a saved copy). With its super-high price tag of $224 million for the overall project (although cloverleaf removal is surely only a small part of the total), I would rate this project as speculative depending on future financial conditions. 18142 Harris Waugh/Heights From IH 10 to NEVADA/BOMAR RECONSTRUCT AND REALIGN WITH SINGLE POINT URBAN INTERCHANGE AT MEMORIAL DRIVE, BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN IMPROVEMENTS, SIGNAL IMPROVEMENTS IMPROVED TRANSIT STOPS AND DETENTION PONDS. 2042 $223.59
  4. There was an update at the January NCTCOG meeting. See item 6 video https://nctcog.swagit.com/play/01092020-1369 presentation https://www.nctcog.org/nctcg/media/Transportation/Committees/RTC/2020/presentations-jan.pdf?ext=.pdf You'll see that North Texas is enamored of hyperloop. At 3:50 in the video or page 7 in the presentation, the alternatives screening is shown. All the high-ranking options are hyperloop, and two HSR options are ranked low. North Texas is bidding for the hyperloop test track. (That's not mentioned in the presentation) In my opinion, hyperloop is somewhat speculative since only short test tracks have been built. I also think it is going to be about the same cost as HSR. (I think I read a report that even Hyperloop officials are saying it will cost around 75% of HSR, and it will probably increase) The preliminary analysis also recommends running it mostly along IH35, especially through the heavily populated areas. I'm somewhat skeptical of the feasibility of running it though Austin on IH-35. But it would be great for access to UT and downtown Austin. The IH 35 proposal would not affect a Houston-to-Austin expansion of Texas Central.
  5. 1) As you say, not feasible due to environmental/neighborhood issues. 2) Those connectors are definitely needed, but are not being planned as far as I know. I submitted comments to HGAC that the ramps should be studied for possible inclusion in planning documents. 1) Interesting idea, but I don't know if it could be justified if the Fort Bend Tollway is connected to Loop 610 on the currently-proposed route. Even if proposed connection does not proceed, it is six miles to SH 288, which will be far more expensive than the 1.3 miles along Post Oak road for the proposed route. 2) That will be expensive, I'm thinking $100+ million.
  6. A preliminary schematic I saw many years ago showed the toll road extension running parallel to US 90A on the north side of the railroad tracks, then curving north into the Post Oak corridor. So any impact on Willow Waterhole was minimal with that design. I also seem to recall it was mostly at ground level along Post Oak, with needed right-of-way acquired on the west side from the strip centers, but that memory is dim and could be wrong. Of course all of that is being re-evaluated for the new report, but I don't expect the alignment along the railroad to change. I view the future of the project as somewhat uncertain due to County Judge Hidalgo's lack of enthusiasm for expanding the toll road system (or any road, for that matter). Projects which are listed on the HCTRA project site but not yet under construction should proceed to construction. (But nothing is certain until a contract is awarded) https://www.hctra.org/MajorProjects This project is still proposed/conceptual, and would surely be axed if Hidalgo wants to curtail expansion of the toll road system.
  7. Photos taken Saturday Feb 8 from the Holly Hall overpass
  8. The right-of-way is not going to be widened at North Main, except maybe for a very narrow strip of land (maybe 10 feet) from the fuel station on northwest corner. Of course they can't widen to the east due the cemetery, and the neighborhood wanted to protect everything including the gas station and the McDonalds, so there is no significant eminent domain at North Main, and only minimal right-of-way acquisition between downtown and Loop 610.
  9. The overhead view is interesting because of the street features. The loop connectors at Waugh and Memorial are gone. The intersection appears to remain grade-separated, with a single-point urban interchange (SPUI) style of intersection at Waugh, which would gain a traffic signal. I have seen the SPUI listed in HGAC's long term documents. Waugh is realigned to straighten the curve. This realignment would appear to necessitate a new bridge over the bayou since the existing bridge is angled and would not line up with a straighter alignment. But that bridge is also the bat colony, so I'm thinking its removal would be a wildlife impact, which could prevent its removal. So this concept may be more speculative than potential future reality. The loop connectors do use a lot of land. I don't see a compelling need for more park space in this area because there is already of abundance of well-developed parkland in the area. But in today's climate, the road is going to lose in road vs. park. Two new soccer fields could potentially fit on the northwest quadrant if Waugh is realigned and the loop connectors removed.
  10. Interesting article, thanks for posting. But I am baffled by the author's admiration for the Tenneco Building, which he calls "Houston's one truly great skyscraper" (I'm assuming in the context of the early 1970s), a "monumental sculpture" and "beautiful". Sure, its street level may be nice, but I view the exterior as generally unattractive. To me, it's more of a product of its time, a brief period when those recessed windows would have been a modern design, something like a bridge between the overt sun panels of 800 Bell and the solar coated glass which became available by the late 1960s. Maybe an architect could explain how this building could be "beautiful".
  11. That building lasted much longer than the Frank Gillman Pontiac dealer in Sharpstown, which replaced the downtown dealership in the photo. (But it is surely possible the downtown location remained open after the Sharpstown dealership opened.) There was also a Mitsubishi dealer at the Sharpstown Gillman campus, and my father bought a Mitsubishi Tredia in 1984. That car became a thrasher car for my brother when he went to college in 1986. The dealer complex was closed, buildings were demolished and the land was vacant for a long time until it became the sports field complex for St Agnes Academy, which is about a mile away. So I became curious about when the dealer closed and found this online from a 22-December-1997 report.
  12. It's definitely a longshot, probably not even worth much speculation. But I'm wondering where local promoters would propose to locate the fair. It seems to me that NRG park area would be the likely and perhaps only suitable candidate. Of course the Astrodome would be repurposed to house pavilions. A new structure would be designed to be a replacement for NRG arena after the expo (i.e add seats afterward). Some other pavilions could possibly be repurposed for HLSR or exhibit space. The Pierce Elevated corridor is slated to become available in the mid-2020s, but the shape is not ideal. But maybe adjacent blocks could be acquired and the Pierce Elevated turned into the backbone connecting all the pavilions. Outside of NRG park, most candidates have availability issues. East River would be a good candidate for a close-in site, but plans are proceeding to develop it now. Hardy Yards could be a candidate, if it could be kept undeveloped. The downtown post office site is probably too small, and plans are already proceeding to redevelop it. A derelict mall site could be an option. Northwest Mall would be the most suitable, close-in candidate, but of course Texas Central already has plans for it. But if Texas Central cannot raise funding, it could become available. Greenspoint is not the most desirable location. Now that I think about it, I'm starting to like the Pierce Elevated idea. Of course I'm biased since I made this web site http://pierceelevatedpark.com/
  13. In February 2018 Harris County Commissioners Court was slated to approve a consultant contract to study the project. https://agenda.harriscountytx.gov/2018/2018-02-27ag.pdf I don't know if that consultant contract moved forward to actual implementation. If it did move forward, it would be the first step in resurrecting the project, assuming that the study determines it is feasible.
  14. I count approx 40 floors in the jenga-style design and 33 floors in the sales office advertising board. In both cases I counted one floor for the penthouse, which appears to be as high as 3 regular floors in the jenga design and two regular floors in the sales office design. So assuming the sales office depiction is correct, the height appears to be downsized. Even considering the penthouse and several floors with high ceilings, the sales office design appears to have a height around 400 feet.
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