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MaxConcrete

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Everything posted by MaxConcrete

  1. That's interesting, I'm going to drive to Emnora lane to see it. As the article notes, it remains to be seen if 3-D printing will become viable for new home construction. But I'm glad to see some new technology being tried. The basics of home construction have changed very little in a very long time (100 years or more). Other countries make more use of prefabricated components to reduce cost and improve quality. Many third-world countries have higher standards for home construction (more concrete-based) than the United States. *******************UPDATE******************** The site is on Emnora Street about 0.5 mile east of Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Tollway), on the southwest corner at Shadowdale. Emnora connects to the BW 8 frontage road. The neighborhood appears to lack deed restrictions, since some properties have fenced front yards and parking in the front yard. The lot is about 8000 square feet. The banner on the fence proclaims this to be the first two-floor printed house in the United States, and lists numerous sponsors. Unfortunately I forgot my phone and camera when I drove by. The house construction extends almost to the rear edge of the property, leaving almost no back yard. There are four towers to support the frame with the printing "head". Each of these towers has a concrete pad. There are two more unused pads toward the front of the property, presumably for when the front half of the house is built. There is a scaffold structure on the front (street) side of the current construction zone, presumably for a good view of the work zone and the machine, maybe for directing the concrete supply. There is also a small concrete mixer on site, and numerous large packages of quick-crete. The number of hours of concrete printing (220) seems large. As the photos suggest, it all looks like it came out of a caulk gun. In my opinion, this is going to be less attractive than a traditional brick facade. My conclusion it that 3D home printing is unlikely to be the wave of the future. Even it it can be industrialized and made economical, it will still be less attractive than a brick home.
  2. See item 7.1 in the agenda for today's NCTCOG meeting https://kentico-admin.nctcog.org/getmedia/9af64da6-ce3c-4017-9cd2-b007bd0b551e/agendapacketaugust2022.pdf.aspx?ext=.pdf Director Michael Morris is now proposing high speed rail as a more traditional government-funded asset with private operations, similar to many airports. This seems to be further evidence that Texas Central won't be able to move the project forward with its private funding plan. It also appears to suggest that (in the current political climate) federal money would be more readily accessible for a government-owned project. And it definitely addresses the reality that property taxes on a privately-owned high-speed rail corridor would be a major expense contributing to project infeasibility. Competition would likely give consumers more options and lower prices. Does anyone know of high speed train lines elsewhere that have multiple service providers? It also makes me wonder if the different train technologies are compatible, or if a specific technology would need to be selected (and all service providers would use it). I can't envision the State of Texas spending any state funds on this project. I don't know of any other way the non-federal share of costs, which would be in the billions and probably $10+ billion, could be covered.
  3. NCTCOG Director Michael Morris spoke about the project at today's meeting. Agenda item 4, starting at 12:22 "You'll be hearing in the next few weeks that the high speed rail Dallas to Houston may be morphed into Dallas to Fort Worth. Lots of meetings are going on with regard to what I'm calling high speed rail version 2.0. Be prepared for advancing the RTC position of a one-seat ride potentially going from Fort Worth, Arlington, Dallas and to Houston." So it sounds like there is ongoing activity, and the project is not moribund as the recent reports suggested. The first part of Morris' statement initially made me think it could be downsized to Dallas to Fort Worth, but then he mentioned Houston in the second part of the statement. Of course the biggest challenge will still be to raise the funding in the current environment with higher interest rates.
  4. The are no existing plans to improve the interchange at 610 and the Gulf Freeway. However, the Gulf Freeway corridor has a study in progress to determine future improvements. https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/get-involved/about/hearings-meetings/houston/071222.html
  5. Texas Central posted a statement on their web site https://www.texascentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Press-Release-Texas-Central-Partners-Comments-on-Recent-Developments.pdf “We thank the Court for its recent thoughtful and considered review of this matter and appreciate the continued support of our investors, lenders, and other key stakeholders, as we continue to advance this important project. Texas Central has made significant strides in the project over the last several years and we are moving forward on a path that we believe will ensure the project’s successful development. We look forward to being able to say more about this at an appropriate time in the near future.” This creates the impression that pronouncements of Texas Central's demise were premature. I'll update this thread title.
  6. If Levcor wants credibility, they should update the text of that page. It is at least 5 years out of date.
  7. Texas Central appeared to be on life support recently, unable to pay its bills. With this report, I think we can pronounce the project as DEAD. https://thetexan.news/texas-central-high-speed-rail-ceo-carlos-aguilar-announces-departure/ The recent inflation probably put the final nails in the coffin. Bids for large TxDOT projects are up around 33% in just the last few months. Texas Central was always too expensive to be financially feasible in any realistic analysis. Add another 33% to the cost and you can forget about it.
  8. Even though that Metro document is recent, it is not consistent with recent information from TxDOT and H-GAC. TxDOT published this update on May 26 https://ftp.txdot.gov/pub/txdot/commission/2022/0526/7c.pdf The project remains on hold by FHWA, and TxDOT is authorized for limited pre-construction work on sections 3A, 3B and 3C. See page 5 of document above. If the FHWA hold is released this month (which appears unlikely), earliest possible starts are 3A: 2024 (not 2023 shown in the Metro document) 3B: 2025 (not 2024 shown in the Metro document) According to the recent H-GAC STIP update (link below), these are the ONLY projects scheduled to start before 2026. All other work is removed from the STIP (which covers four fiscal years 2023-2026), see page 15. In a presentation that was given for the STIP (but I can't find online), they mentioned that the next project after 3A and 3B would be 3C1 (Interchange at I-45 and I-10 northwest side of downtown), with the earliest possible start in 2028. https://www.h-gac.com/getmedia/d4768bd3-bd75-45a9-a512-fe477354c952/PDF-of-FY-2023-2026-TIP-Project-List-Public-comment As long as the FHWA hold in in place, the delays will become longer. The only work that might begin construction within 5 years is I-69 in midtown.
  9. The first photo was taken Wednesday. It shows the PowerTrac boom which is doing the demolition. There was also a large fan on the right side blowing a cloud of mist over the site, surely for dust control. The second photo was taken today.
  10. There is preconstruction (i.e. design) work in progress to get rid of the legacy toll plazas on the original 3 sections of the Sam Houston Tollway. I agree, they are a bottleneck which cause a slowdown when traffic reaches a certain level. I recall at least one Harris County Commissions Court agenda item for consultant contracts for this work. It was not recent, probably 6-18 months ago. If you really want to find out more, you'll need to search through Harris County Commissioners Court agendas and you should find mention of this work. https://agenda.harriscountytx.gov/Archive.aspx
  11. I recently posted an analysis of HCTRA's most recent annual report. http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2021/09/#863387292260407558 In short Harris County Commissioners Court diverted $545 million in toll payments out of HCTRA in FY 2021 Revenue was down $304 million (36%) in FY 2021, which ran from March 2020 to Feb 2021 and included the worst of Covid and the freeze shutdown. Revenue should return to near the 2019 value of $855 million in the current fiscal year. Assuming no more revenue disruptions like covid, HCTRA is collecting far more revenue than needed to meet its financial obligations Overcharging toll road customers and diverting the revenue is price-gouging, in my opinion Since Harris County Commissions court seems intent to end expansion and improvement of the toll road system after current obligations are complete, my view is that tolls should be reduced or eliminated once these obligations are done in a few years. The priority for toll removal should be facilities which have generated far more revenue than their original cost, and facilities which are mainly used by Harris County residents. This would be the original three sections of the Sam Houston Tollway which opened between 1988 and 1990 from the Southwest Freeway to the North Freeway, and also possibly the south Hardy Toll Road.
  12. Excellent detective work, mattyt36. Using your clues I was able to make a positive ID that the photo location is Shenzhen, China. The area of the photo has been radically transformed. The amount of construction in China is mind-boggling. I am reassured that this was not a location in North America or Europe which I should have been able to identify. It would be nice if the CoH water department would use a photo of Houston! Here is a link showing how the site looks today http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSy8TR7oBFPNVCpAfislmyq_AV3yLbs7_jVXe7PR4MO0hSNgZin
  13. If you log in to the City of Houston water utility site (houstonwater.org) and view your account information, there is a large background image showing a city scene. But it is not Houston, and I can't identify which city it is. The big clue is the twin-tower office building in the background with the X-style bracing, but I've looked online and can't find any photos of it. houstonwaterbills.houstontx.gov/ProdDP/images/image-bg.jpg
  14. At today's commission meeting, the commission decided to receive public comment on the removal of funding for NHHIP. Comment will be received starting July 9, and the plan is to have a decision at the August meeting (at the end of August). From the tone of comments from Chairman Bugg and Houston Commissioner Ryan, it sounds like they are ready to defund NHHIP. Public comment appears to be a necessary step before they can officially remove the projects (and their funding) from the UTP.
  15. In case you weren't aware, DFW builds more freeways and tollways than Houston and is better off economically than Houston. DFW has more job creation and more consistent job creation. In fact, they're almost always the #1 metro in the U.S. for job creation. Houston only ranks highly when oil prices are high. DFW has more population increase and attracts more domestic migrants (which is a sign that a city is attractive). DFW also has a more highly diversified economy including a much larger tech sector than Houston. DFW is often a viable candidate for national-level corporate expansions such as Amazon and Uber, but Houston is never a viable candidate. More funding for DFW will mean more success for DFW.
  16. Now we'll need to await the response of the TxDOT commission. Will they leave the $5 billion funding commitment in place, or will the project funding be reallocated elsewhere? I'm not in a position to know anything, but there may be some clues. At the June 10 NCTCOG meeting (NCTCOG is the Dallas-Fort Worth equivalent of H-GAC), NCTCOG director Morris stated "We have a major push working with TxDOT headquarters to advance projects in Dallas-Fort Worth as other big projects in the rest of the state do not move forward. So, [name] and Mo and Carl and John and our office are working hard to get really big projects slotted for any opportunities that either Washington or Austin wish to advance (transportation projects)." (Mo is the TxDOT Dallas director, Carl is the TxDOT Fort Worth director) NHHIP is the only project I'm aware of that is not moving forward. Morris is certainly in a position to have "inside information", and of course DFW would love to harvest money from Houston. Also, the TxDOT commission has an executive session scheduled before its regular monthly meeting on June 30. I've never seen an executive session scheduled before the main meeting, which suggests to me that something may be going on. There could be a response already developed, and the meeting could be to coordinate all the members, including Commissioner Ryan from Houston. However, any new decisions in an executive session would probably not be made public immediately at the normal meeting. https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/administration/commission/2021-meetings.html
  17. It's very unlikely this will have any effect on the Inner Katy BRT. The BRT will be on TxDOT right-of-way, but I don't think TxDOT will want to burn bridges with Metro, CoH and HGAC by causing delays. Also, it appears that (as of now) only Harris County is a plaintiff in the lawsuit against TxDOT. CoH and Metro are not suing TxDOT. Of course CoH and others (i.e. Link) may be glad to let Harris County do the dirty work.
  18. Driving on the new 610NB-69SB ramp High res This view shows the two ramps being demolished, 610NB-69SB in the foreground and 610SB-69NB in the background High res View of the old 610SB-69NB being demolished High res
  19. The Austin Business Journal recently (28-Jan-21) posted a report with a summary of downtown high-rise activity, including planned and rumored projects. There is no mention of this project, 98 Red River. This is what the article says about the tallest building in Austin This project is the closest mentioned to the site of 98 Red River It is quite mind-boggling to have 43 projects in this report, although of course many are planned and some won't happen. This boom is mostly because it is difficult, expensive and/or impossible to build adequate new housing in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, so the tech industry has to overflow to someplace, and for the moment the preferred overflow location is Austin. Most of the projects are in the 30-to-50 floor range, which is similar to what we see in Houston, so Austin is subject to the same height limits that apply to new Houston buildings. I agree with Kbates2 that the rendering is a much more attractive building than Houston's JPMorganChase or Wells Fargo buildings. Urbanizzer's 1/7 photo shows there is something going on at the site. It seems strange there is no mention by the ABJ.
  20. Here are some photos I took of the presentation board for the railroad realignment at the City of Houston meeting in September 2018. These maps don't suggest any improvement to Winter street, but that was more than two years ago. (I could not embed the image because the links are not https) This should be available somewhere on the CoH web site, possibly more up-to-date. http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20180904-0013-2000.jpg http://dallasfreeways.com/dfwfreeways/AARoads/20180904-0012-2560.jpg
  21. I seem to recall that the original plan was to have the toll lanes connect into MacGregor, but there was substantial opposition so the MacGregor connection was nixed. The Holcombe exit was then proposed and was acceptable to the community. Good point about an exit to the main lanes where you suggest.
  22. The FM 1960 bridge over US 290 is now open! I don't know exactly when it opened, but Saturday a week ago (10/31) it was still closed, and crews were busy doing the final finishing tasks. It's nearly two years since the official opening ceremony on December 15, 2018. Regular closures for pavement texturing on the entire length of main lanes was ongoing until around Spring 2020 (and very annoying). There is still work needed to be done at ground level of the FM 1960 intersection, but the project could be finally, completely done by the end of this year or early 2021.
  23. That's interesting to know the Lodge rates poorly compared to peers. Big Bend Lodge is the only option in the park, and since the park is so big, it's a long way to any other options, Terlingua being the nearest. No competition, so they can get away with a mediocre property at a high price. The last time I looked into it several years ago, the Big Bend Lodge was booked far in advance during peak season, and was quite expensive. So I have never stayed at the Lodge. I have camped at Chisos Basin and Rio Grande Village, and I have stayed at a lower-tier property in Terlingua.
  24. The proposed toll road along Post Oak Road connecting the Fort Bend Parkway is not going to happen, at least not anytime in the foreseeable future. Today the commissioner's court approved a resolution to suspend any further study of it and cancel a consultant contract currently in progress. It is permanently dead? Probably. It appears that the new policy of Commissioner's Court is to end all future expansion of the toll road system, and only a few previous commitments will move forward, such as some ramps at 225 and the Sam Houston Tollway. See part 2 of the video https://harriscountytx.new.swagit.com/videos/79636
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