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Everything posted by bulldog

  1. No. The initial tear-down (as part of the original approved $4MM reconstruction project) started and then was halted when someone in the Mayor's Office found out the city owned the bridge and not TXDOT. The Mayor's Office cherry-picked entities to provide "public support" with the intent to justify not rebuilding it. They dumped the permanent tear-down proposal on Public Works, which fumbled around for a few months trying to figure out what to do.
  2. I'm talking specifically about the attempted permanent tear-down of the bridge and the way the Mayor's Office created a false narrative of support for it in secret and used that to manipulate Public Works into pursuing it. I'm not talking about the proposed pedestrian/bicyclist improvements on Smith/Bagby/Holman.
  3. Also bear in mind that Public Works was tricked into thinking the tear-down was a slam dunk from the beginning. They were not even anticipating any objections, let alone seeking any other opinions at the outset.
  4. The only reason it's being rebuilt is because of all the people that objected to it once it was widely known what they were trying to do. The government was deliberately keeping it off public's radar to slip it through. If it weren't for the uproar stirred up on social media, etc. I think the outcome may have been very different. Ultimately it seems the mayor couldn't justify the project in light of the public response, otherwise why would they have proceeded with the rebuild?
  5. Funny that this thread just woke up again. I was about to post on it myself. I found out how the sneaky tear-down project came about in the first place. Public Works lied publicly about the origins of the tear-down project, which covered up the fact that the whole thing was initiated by one person in the Mayor's Office. Public Works was completely blindsided with the tear-down initiative by the Mayor's Office. The Brazos Street bridge tear-down proposal was just the start and Public Works threw in the Bagby Street closure as a bonus after the project landed in its lap. There was an orchestrated effort by people in the Mayor's Office to manufacture "public support" for tearing down the bridge, by leveraging influence over the various Management Districts, TIRZs, and other local advocacy entities (Rice Kinder Institute, Bike Houston, etc.). All of the initial community support (Kinder Institute, Public Works' proposal, endorsement by the TIRZs and management districts, endorsement by Westmoreland and Annise Parker, etc.) all came AFTER it had already been decided by people in the Mayor's Office that they wanted to tear down the bridge and BEFORE any attempt was made to have a public announcement or meeting. Regardless of your opinion on the bridge tear-down itself, you have to understand that this whole attempted project was a product of our corrupt local government.
  6. Why do you think the Houston taxpayers should provide you (or anyone else) a bailout for your decision to live in a neighborhood next to a freeway that you now regret? The freeway has been there much longer than 25 years. This is morally bankrupt. You are owed nothing. Also, the implication that this needs to be done for the good of an urban neighborhood is elitist and while it may be your opinion, it does not justify the economic and social damage, nor the moral hazards, you seek to create. Given that we're on the cusp of creating the precedent that it's OK to bulldoze highly used roads to build pseudo-parks in urban areas, this is not a valid argument.
  7. I attended the meeting of business owners at the Midtown Management District office where Jeffrey Weatherford of Public Works was actually in attendance. In summary, he failed to provide a coherent narrative about the reason for suspension of the bridge reconstruction nor the timeline of events, despite direct questioning. His explanation varied throughout the meeting and included "we got an email from the Kinder Institute" to "a few people in the area contacted us." He was indignant about the idea that anything was secret or rushed. He offered in the meeting that he'd give at least 3 weeks more for public comments at the insistence of the attendees but the implication is that he alone controls the timing of the public comment period and he'll end it whenever he wants. Furthermore, to say the local businesses are upset is a major understatement as many of them individually reported economic impact already from the Brazos bridge closure alone in the 6 figures and stores are not hiring for previously planned positions as a result.
  8. Also very suspicious that the first roll-out of this is at the Westmoreland Civic Association meeting? Also I'm pretty sure there are laws about announcing government meetings. "Brazos Bridge Vicinity Concept" project exists exactly nowhere I can find online. The people hyping it up are only referencing the Project # for the $4 million bridge repair contract, which was already awarded. Did they pull the contract after the demolition? This has shenanigans written all over it. I have lots of questions.
  9. Yes, I know it's silly to think that given the word from CoH and public news sources that all refer to repair and a schedule for it. The last public information was: Interesting that the repair process stalled out right after it started. This turn-it-into-a-park proposal seems like an opportunistic move by Westmoreland. As I said previously it's very clever on their part to use their special interest position to get benefits bestowed on themselves by the government at the expense of thousands of other citizens but I'm optimistic that won't be successful. Don't worry, the city will be getting my input and that of a lot of other people.
  10. I haven't complained because I'm happy the city is finally fixing a bridge that has been literally falling apart for years.
  11. "Bagby doesn’t have that much traffic." LOL. This creates a private Spur on-ramp for Westmoreland? No wonder they're in favor. If I could get the government to close the streets by my house to the public and only let me use them, I'd probably be in favor of that too. Doesn't mean it makes any real sense.
  12. For me, I want a provider with a good web site (online billing and credit card autopay). In terms of rates, the biggest thing to watch out for is the "low usage" fee which is pretty common and usually hits in months below 500 kWh but depending on your usage you may not even hit that (small townhouse or apartment with low usage is likely to hit that in the winter especially if you don't have electric heat). You'll notice the prices are generally bunched together. For residential power in Texas you're not likely to ever do much better than 9-10 cents per kWh. With rates where they are right now I would personally recommend locking in for a year or two minimum if you know you're not planning to move.
  13. This is not unusual. HFD, or pretty much any large fire department, will dispatch what is known as a "box alarm" for anything that implies a building may be on fire, e.g., "smoke in the building" qualifies (usually these turn out to be things like burned food on the stove). A box alarm ("1 alarm fire") consists of numerous pieces of apparatus. I don't know the HFD dispatch protocol off hand but it's probably something like 4 engines, a ladder truck, ambulance and district chief. If it's a "high rise" building then even more apparatus will be dispatched. Most of these calls turn out to be nothing and the units are quickly placed back in service.
  14. http://blogs.chron.com/bayoucityhistory/2011/03/lights_out_for_centerpoints_gable_street_facility.html http://swamplot.com/daily-demolition-report-and-thats-where-tile-roofs-come-from/2011-03-07/
  15. I've been in the steam tunnels. It's cool on some level but it's not that impressive in the grand scheme on things. They are only for distribution of utilities to campus buildings from the central plants. In many areas they have so many pipes going through them that they are impassable for humans.
  16. I don't know for sure but I would not be surprised if this and the midtown one were hypothetical designs commissioned by one or more of the following agencies: Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Houston Downtown Management District Midtown Management District
  17. While we're on the topic, a car commercial for the Ford Ecoboost was filmed on the Sabine Street bridge December 14-15.
  18. Yes, it was a Hyundai car commercial. They were filming Saturday and Sunday all day at various locations including Smith Street near the Chevron buildings on Saturday and in front of the new YMCA on Sunday.
  19. The small blue helicopters belong to the Houston Police Department. They usually stick to the freeways unless they are working an incident. Get a scanner and you can listen to them. Try helicopter air-to-air on 123.025, HPD car-to-car on 460.225 and the HPD dispatch channels. http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?ctid=2623
  20. Sorry just saw this thread. It did appear to be a Kia commercial shoot. They were shooting multiple different Kia Sportages over that weekend (Saturday/Sunday) at various locations downtown. One of the producers tried to accuse me of corporate espionage for standing around taking photos in public... I'm not joking. The production crew was illegally using amateur band two-way radios also.
  21. HPD is at least reporting the statistics differently and has been for several months. It coincided with the launch of their crappy crime statistics/map web site. The way that they categorize crimes is significantly different making accurate aggregate crime trend comparison essentially impossible between the "old way" and the "new way" (at least for the public which is left to guess how the data compares). HPD also quietly tried to get away with not posting the raw crime data on-line which they had been posting on-line every month for years. However, under pressure from the public they were compelled to start posting the raw data again.
  22. It probably also doesn't include reports from any of the many other police departments with overlapping jurisdictions, such as Metro, Federal Protective Service, Harris County Constable precincts, numerous school districts, numerous colleges/universities, Port of Houston, etc. Not to mention all of the smaller cities that border or are surrounded by the city.
  23. The CenterPoint smart meters are Itron OpenWay meters. They will record 15-minute interval usage and demand data. If you're curious, the LCD on the meter displays your peak demand in kVA (which your old residential meter didn't record). There are numerous benefits to these meters, not just CenterPoint not having to send out human meter readers. Unfortunately, most people have no concept of how electricity is generated and distributed and a lot of the replies in this thread demonstrate that. Potentially the biggest benefit of smart meters is the ability for residences to realize the cost-benefit trade-off of using electricity during peak usage periods. Currently, you pay the same rate each month regardless of when during the month you use power. Once smart meters are widely deployed and suppliers start offering time-of-use rate plans, you can potentially save yourself a lot of money by shifting non-critical usage to off-peak times. Why does this matter? The electric grid has to have generation capacity (including typically about 20% additional reserves) to meet the peak demand at any given time. All electricity is generated in real-time as it is needed (there are no giant batteries anywhere). Annual peak demand occurs during the afternoon of the hottest day of the year. During the rest of year, there's a lot of unneeded generation capacity going unused. If total demand on the grid keeps increasing (it does every year) then we continue to need additional generation capacity to meet peak demand which only occurs for a small fraction of the year. If we are aware (through time-of-use electric rates) when it is most expensive, we can shift our usage (e.g., running a dish or clothes washer) to a different time, not only saving ourselves money but reducing the need for additional generation capacity which means overall electricity rates stay down (you're going to pay, indirectly, for someone to build that new power plant). In addition, smart meters will allow things like same-day electric supplier switching because the meter read can be done instantly and remotely. Also, they eliminate the need for estimated readings because the meter can always be read at its scheduled time. If your electric rate varies each month then you could get screwed by an estimated reading if it's inaccurate. Another benefit is that CenterPoint will know immediately and precisely when customers lose service through automatic outage reporting (the meters can still communicate for a period of time after losing power). Yet another benefit is that the meters support Zigbee, which is a standard for wireless home automation integration. Eventually, you will be able to integrate appliances and your thermostat with your meter. So for example, you could tell the air conditioning to cut-off if the real-time electricity price exceeds some threshold. There's nothing to be paranoid about. There is no CenterPoint conspiracy to screw you. Smart meters are being installed across the country. Texas happens to be slightly ahead of the curve in this area though.
  24. Technically, those are "4th Ward style" street lights, not Midtown. http://www.4thwardhouston.com/fourth_ward_..._brown2_011.htm
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