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MaxConcrete

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Everything posted by MaxConcrete

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. The North Texas proposal for the Hyperloop certification center was eliminated from contention this week. See item 6.1. https://www.nctcog.org/nctcg/media/Transportation/Committees/RTC/2020/agenda-packet-aug.pdf?ext=.pdf I expected this result because the North Texas proposal mostly aligned the test tubes on elevated structures along the SH 360 freeway, which of course makes construction much more difficult and also limits accessibility. I'm thinking the winner will have a plan which has the tubes on the ground, or has a clear, unobstructed corridor for easier construction and access. There does not seem to be any information online about which proposals remain in contention.
  13. The final EIS was released Friday, and I compared the draft EIS schematic to the final EIS schematic. https://railroads.dot.gov/environmental-reviews/dallas-houston-high-speed-rail/dallas-houston-high-speed-rail-final Generally, changes are minimal. The document (ES 6.2.1 and ES 6.2.2) specifically mentions these changes in the Houston area See document F1 pages 303-304 for the proposed station plan. The plan shows West 18th turning toward the southwest just west of the US 290/IH 610 and connecting to Post Oak road. The existing West 18th appears to be abandoned, although no future use of the land is shown. Mangum Road is also realigned. As mentioned in the quote, the station is now more to the west, entirely west of the new West 18th alignment. Most of the Northwest mall site is listed as "potential parking zone" or no use is indicated. However, most of the non-designated property is on a clear corridor which could extend the rail line eastward toward downtown. The station orientation was altered for this alignment, reason cited to accommodate the Hempstead Road managed/toll lanes, but this also has the side-benefit of being an alignment which more readily preserves the option of extension to downtown. Presumably the large parking zones would be available for future development. The long-term buildout shown below includes Metro BRT connection and the corridor for the proposed Hempstead managed lanes/tollway. I like this plan. It provides good access from most directions, and has a long drop-off zone at ground level along the new street in front of the station. Going west to Fry Road, the final EIS plan is generally unchanged from the draft EIS plan. The HSR is on elevated viaduct on the south side of Hempstead Road to Gessner. See document G1 page 21 for the cross section (copied below) The HSR moves to the south side of the Union Pacific railroad at Gessner and drops to ground level to go under BW8. Immediately west of BW8 it goes back on the viaduct, which has a high crossing over SH 6. West of Fry Road there is a significant change compared to the DEIS. There's no change in alignment, but in the DEIS the track is mostly at ground level or on embankment west of Fry. Now there is a continuous elevated viaduct all the way to just north of FM 2920. This will surely add to the cost. The change at Castle Road north of Waller shifts the alignment slightly to the east to avoid some property.
  14. The CoH request is just a collection of all the complaints of the project opposition. CoH didn't even think through the consequences or feasibility of their request and the net negative effect it will have on mobility. You will realize just how ridiculous the COH request is when your read this analysis. https://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-city-of-houstons-problematic.html Major points 1. Removal of the HOV lane has a major negative impact on existing mobility, and eliminates an incentive to carpool/vanpool 2. The BRT with stations in the freeway will duplicate the Red Line North extension, which already has low ridership. This is totally crazy, to build something which will further lower the already low ridership of the Red Line North extension, which will have a cost around $1.4 billion when extended to North Shepherd. Furthermore, CoH did not provide any ridership estimates of the BRT with stations on the section competing with the Red Line. 3. Removal of the managed lanes eliminates the best tool available for providing ridesharing-oriented options to congestion 4. This is a corridor with heavy truck traffic, and COH's request to compromise design standards is the exact opposite of what you want for a truck corridor 5. And the most tragic of all: the lost opportunity to beautify the corridor. By keeping it narrow on the existing right-of-way, the corridor appearance stays the same and there will be virtually no opportunities for landscaping since the corridor will be paved edge-to-edge, like the Northwest freeway is now after the expansion. TxDOT is slated to remove 24 billboards, which will stay in place with the CoH request. This is the first impression of Houston for many visitors to Houston, and it's currently ugly, and it will stay that way forever with the CoH request. With the TxDOT design, there is plenty of space between the main lanes and frontage roads to plant forests of trees, like we have on 610 in Bellaire. Since the CoH design actually does damage to existing mobility on Segments 1 and 2, TxDOT should reject all the absurd CoH requests and continue as plannned. If TxDOT can't proceed as planned, they should withdraw funding for the entire NHHIP because it will have no mobility benefit and actually do harm.
  15. Musk's threat to move the Fremont factory is just to get local California officials to take notice of his concerns. As you say, moving that plant is highly unlikely. But the planned new factory for cybertruck and model Y is something that will be placed outside of California (see my previous post if you missed it). The new plant is the prize, if it is able to proceed in the current economic climate.
  16. The diagram is 514 feet in height, excluding the "mech pent", so the proposed height is around 530-540 feet.
  17. I'm sure Musk is floating the move idea to coerce California officials to accommodate Telsa's desire to restart production. But Texas could be in the running for future expansion. Based on this WSJ article from March 10, I'm inclined to think that a more Midwest location closer to the auto industry would be more likely, but as the article says, incentives will also be important and could put Texas on a short list. https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-says-incentives-costs-will-influence-site-of-new-u-s-tesla-factory-11583890306?mod=searchresults&page=4&pos=14 My interpretation is that Musk is looking for a site not only for production, but also for engineering. So it would need to be a place where they can attract top talent. That seems to suggest at least a medium-sized city, and a city with an ample (preferably non-union) blue collar workforce and also a skilled engineering and software workforce. That would seem to greatly limit the options and may be impossible to achieve. My first thoughts are that Nashville, Austin and maybe someplace in North Carolina would be contenders. Elon Musk Says Incentives, Costs Will Influence Site of New U.S. Tesla Factory Updated March 10, 2020 10:19 pm ET ... Mr. Musk on Tuesday said on Twitter that the Silicon Valley electric-car maker is scouting locations for a new factory in the U.S. to build the company’s coming pickup truck and Model Y compact sport-utility vehicle. “Incentives play a role, but so do logistics costs, access to a large workforce with a wide range of talents, and quality of life,” he later told The Wall Street Journal in an email. President Trump in January had suggested Tesla was planning to erect a new factory in the U.S. Mr. Trump, in an interview with CNBC, said he had talked with Mr. Musk and that the auto maker planned to build a “very big plant” in the U.S. Mr. Musk, via Twitter on Tuesday, said the facility would be placed in the central part of the U.S., a region of the country that fuels many pickup sales for competitors Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. He also said, in a second social-media post, that production for the Model Y would serve East Coast customers. ...
  18. It's a separate project from the 288 toll lanes and adjacent interchange. The $117 million contract was awarded to Williams Brothers in September 2018 (not 2019). I was wondering if the contract actually proceeded since nothing happened for over a year. Now I'm thinking it was delayed to allow the interchange work to be completed, and/or to avoid interference between contractors. http://www.dot.state.tx.us/insdtdot/orgchart/cmd/cserve/bidtab/09063002.htm
  19. I would say the connection is not "from the interchange" but rather is from the westbound 610 main lanes. The exit will have a flyover to go over the connections from SH 288. This project will extend the 610 bridge over Almeda to also go over Cambridge. I drove through the area today and all traffic is on the south side of the existing pavement to allow work to start on the new westbound bridge over Cambridge.
  20. Piers for the 610 SB to 69 NB ramp, taken today On the recently opened 69 NB to 610 SB ramp, showing work in progress on the 610 NB to 69 SB ramp
  21. This shows the new SH 288 northbound main lanes nearing completion. The southbound main lanes were shifted to the new alignment a few weeks ago. Photo taken today.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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
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