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Ctc Announcement For Upcoming Meeting


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Citizens Transportation Coalition invites you to come:

Learn why every Harris County resident should care about tollroad policy.

Learn how CTC volunteers are working with legislators to change state law to protect neighborhood rights and interests, and more importantly, what you can do to help!

When: Thursday, February 17, 2005 at 7:00 pm

Where: Upper Kirby Building,

(downstairs conference room)

3015 Richmond Ave, Houston, 77098

If you want to go, visit www.citizenstransportationcoalition.org to RSVP.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It was a good meeting. They were impressed with all the new people there. Informing the public of HCTRA's power and abuse of it will be an uphill climb, but if it's not done the entire state may be full of tollways, whether people drive on them or not. Within 10 years the entire west side will be full of them.

A tollway WILL go parallel to 610 West Loop through Memorial Park.

Another one WILL be just north of 290 called "The Northwest Corridor".

South Post Oak WILL be a tollway, right through the middle of Westbury and Willowbend.

Don't just think that common sense will prevail.

Get the info out to your friends and neighbors and tell them that HCTRA doesn't have to answer to anyone. Stop driving tollroads until they have to answer to the city of Houston.

Jason

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A tollway WILL go parallel to 610 West Loop through Memorial Park.

I don't believe the tollway parallel to the West Loop will be built. It would be a politically bad decision because pushing it through would make so many enemies for HCTRA that there would be critical mass for local officials to gang up on HCTRA and rein them in. If HCTRA does attempt this, it will probably be the last thing they do, after all other tollways are built. With such a full plate of planned tollways, they could be busy for decades.

The Fort Bend Parkway connection to Loop 610 should be built, preferably soon. Impact will be moderate (mostly lower-tier businesses) and the project will provide a big benefit. Remember, this will be a commuter freeway so it will be practically deserted after 8PM, minimizing noise impact to nearby neighborhoods.

The Northwest Corridor connection to SH 249 is also a good candidate. I've followed the route in a helicopter twice and the corridor is ideal for a tollway/freeway - minimal development, minimal displacements, and virtually all nearby structures are light industrial or warehouse facilities.

As for toll road abuse, it is a statewide phenomenon due to Governor Goodhair and his toll henchman Ric Williamson. The situation is much worse in Austin and DFW, where state financed freeways are being tolled. Even though HCTRA is jacking up tolls to generate revenue, the money is being used locally presumably to benefit the public. I think the best way to stop this toll road abuse is to oust Rick Perry. It's all up to Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

www.fireRicWilliamson.com

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How is it that the "HCTRA does't have to answer to anyone?"

They are part of the Harris County government. Last I checked, Harris County commissioners and County Judge were all elected by the people of Harris County.

Maybe I've missed something newsworthy. . . Of what abuses of its power has HCTRA been guilty?

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I live in Spring. It's a pretty good ways away from Preston Street in Downtown Houston, where the Harris County Commissioner's Court holds well, court. That already makes attending their meetings more than a little difficult besides the fact that they are held during the week during workplace hours. But, I could live with all that and their funky rules for speaking before Commissioner's Court, but why don't they at least publish their minutes on the web. Hell, even the Texas Transportation Commission of the Texas Dept. of Transportation does that, all the way from Austin! Even my MUD board does it, here in little old Spring. It makes accessing the meetings and voicing an opinion difficult at best, if you don't even know what they're doing or when. Their vague agenda on the web is a joke. So, unless you're unemployed and have a lot of time on your hands to hang out with the good old boys (and girl) at Commissioner's Court, you don't seriously have a clue to what the heck they're doing, until it's way too late. Sorry for the rant....

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If they still have the power to do it and it would be the last thing they do, then they certainly will do it.

The impact it's having on me right now is that I'm in the option period of buying a house that backs up to South Post Oak. Would you try to get out of the deal? The noise of South Post Oak now doesn't bother me and it's not on the side (north side) that will have the most building of the tollway going on. I'm guessing my side of South Post Oak will be the feeder, and the house is a one of a kind house built by a major Houston architect... It also has a huge backyard, so I won't be so close. I want the house more than anything, but I'm having second thoughts because of the possibility of the tollroad. I'm mostly worried about the inconvienence of the construction period and that it may be harder to sell my home with that close by.

Still aside from the NIMBY factor, I just don't think the HCTRA has to go through enough channels to get their deals done. I think of the hoops I have to go through in everyday life, and it seems like they have no hoops...

Thanks for the forum,

Jason

If HCTRA does attempt this, it will probably be the last thing they do, after all other tollways are built. With such a full plate of planned tollways, they could be busy for decades.

The Fort Bend Parkway connection to Loop 610 should be built, preferably soon. Impact will be moderate (mostly lower-tier businesses) and the project will provide a big benefit. Remember, this will be a commuter freeway so it will be practically deserted after 8PM, minimizing noise impact to nearby neighborhoods.

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Remember, this will be a commuter freeway so it will be practically deserted after 8PM, minimizing noise impact to nearby neighborhoods.

YEAH RIGHT! :lol:

Why not list some other such "commuter freeways" that this would be comparable to for comparison sake? I personally can't think of any in the Houston area that are "practically deserted after 8 p.m." So enlighten us, won't you, Max?

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What about Westpark and Hardy? These commuter tollways are deserted after 8pm. And some of the exits on Hardy are free after 9 or 10pm. I know the Richey Rd one is when I visit some friends in the area. The only tollway that is consistently busy is the Beltway. Which was to eventually be a freeway by TxDOT. HCTRA decided to build it earlier for TxDOT. TxDot loves it because all they have to maintain is the feeder roads. The mainlanes are HCTRA's problems and they are doing quite a good job of maintaining them.

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What about Westpark and Hardy?  These commuter tollways are deserted after 8pm. 

I have to give a double nod to that. The Westpark is currently empty alot of the time. I do hit it in off peak hours but I've yet to see more than 2 other cars within sight. That is usually at lunch time. There was a wreck on westpark either yesterday or today and when they announced it on the radio it kind of shocked me. The Hardy gets a bit more use but still its always been a fairly underused roadway in off hours.

I'd be interested to read decibel info on these roadways.

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The Hardy Tollroad is still being subsidized by the Sam Houston Tollway to the tune of about $10 million dollars a year, so although this may fit the description of an underutilized road, does it fit the description of a good road project if it continues to have to be subsidized? The Westpark is still too new to compare to anything. It would be funny if it ended up like the Hardy, thus disproving the old saw about if you build it, they will come. Sometimes, it just don't happen. :D

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The Hardy Tollroad is still being subsidized by the Sam Houston Tollway to the tune of about $10 million dollars a year, so although this may fit the description of an underutilized road, does it fit the description of a good road project if it continues to have to be subsidized? The Westpark is still too new to compare to anything. It would be funny if it ended up like the Hardy, thus disproving the old saw about if you build it, they will come. Sometimes, it just don't happen. :D

Do you have a source for the statement that the Hardy is still subsidized by the Sam Houston? I've seen allegations on this board several times to the effect that the Hardy Toll Road is underutilized/a miserable failure/should never have been built, but of course, nobody has ever bothered to back up such statements with a source.

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Do you have a source for the statement that the Hardy is still subsidized by the Sam Houston?  I've seen allegations on this board several times  to the effect that the Hardy Toll Road is underutilized/a miserable failure/should never have been built, but of course, nobody has ever bothered to back up such statements with a source.

The $10 million number comes from a July 1998 analysis by the Houston Chronicle which showed annual revenue of $20.4 million and costs of $30.1 million.

But that was 7 years ago. Usage has increased steadily since then. In fact, there was a 50% increasing from about 65,000 transactions per day in 1998 to 101,000 in 2002. (I don't have recent data.)

I don't know if bond payments have gone up or not. But if costs have held steady around $30 million, I think the Hardy toll road is now covering its expenses, or is very close to covering its expenses. It is doubtful the Hardy will ever be able to pay back the subsidies received from the Sam Houston tollway.

Bottom line: the $10 million figure is almost surely wrong, and there may no longer be an ongoing subsidy.

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So all in all, it seems from the history of the commuter tollways as you guys are saying, that South Post Oak or the Northwest Corridor as a tollway won't be that bad after they build it. That is reassuring in some way and from driving around with my windows open the last few days, I've realized that the noise is not bad from 100 ft from the 610 freeway in Bellaire when there are good sound walls, especially if the road is elevated. Can we count on Bellaire quality sound walls? I hope so. It almost seems like it could possibly be quieter than the way the road is now...

But the point is that HCTRA seems to be able to do whatever it wants wherever it wants. They don't have to hold public meetings.

Here is what CTC wants to accomplish:

The Citizens' Transportation Coalition advocates changes in state law that would ensure the following:

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The mainlanes are HCTRA's problems and they are doing quite a good  job of maintaining them.

Well, that's true in most places but not everywhere. In particular, there are sections of the Sam Houston Tollway and Hardy Toll Road that were built with defective concrete (river gravel instead of limestone) and these sections have been in bad shape since they were a few years old. Spalling (crumbling concrete where cracks occur) has been severe and HCTRA has patched the road up with some kind of concrete epoxy. Still, pavement quality is poor. Several years ago TxDOT was forced to repave the frontage roads on BW8 from Harwin to the Southwest Freeway with thin-bonded concrete because the deterioration was so severe.

Apparently the defective concrete was due to an error in the project specification which allowed the river gravel. I think all the defective concrete was laid by H.B. Zachry. Apparently they didn't know better or decidedly to do things as cheaply as possible, quality be damned.

Work is now underway on the expansion of the Sam Houston main lanes from Harwin to the Southwest Freeway. We'll see if a more permanent fix is made to the defective concrete. The bad section of the Hardy Toll Road is from BW8 to FM 1960.

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I've always wondered why that section of the Hardy is so rough, makes sense. TxDOT holds a much stronger standard for concrete than what was in the specs for these roads.

Most people don't realized that the Hardy Toll Road is only a part of the masterplanned Hardy Corridor. Outside of the much needed extenstion into downtown, the Hardy Toll has alignments that have been laid out to take it all the way to Conroe. The primary alignment has to taken into consideration for all developments in its path in Montgomery County. Montgomery County is also considering other toll options and road improvements for east west movement from Magnolia to I45 and some areas also to the east.

Montgomery County and Conroe have a rough major thoroughfare plan similar to Houston's. The Hardy Toll Road Extension is the name given to it.

With all this said, the Hardy Toll Road was a little over designed to handle higher traffic from the future extension. The Hardy Toll Road has come to a point where it can fund itself and the revenues from the Sam Houston can be used for other projects such the F-2 alignment of the Grand Parkway.

Truthfully, all the money earned by one Toll facility does not just go that facilities maintenance and upkeep. The revenues go to the Toll Road Authority. As long as the Toll Road Authority can make the bond repayments, it doesn't matter where the money came from. Hardy and Westpark tollways won't be the only toll roads that use money from the Sam Houston Tollway to fund it. The Sam Houston Tollway is a major cash producing facility. Since HCTRA can only spend the money within itself, it'll just upgrade and add new much needed facilities with extra money.

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I've always wondered why that section of the Hardy is so rough, makes sense.  TxDOT holds a much stronger standard for concrete than what was in the specs for these roads.

Actually TxDOT got hit with the same bad concrete on their projects that were going on about the same time the bad tollroad sections were constructed. I believe when the Chronicle did an article on this subject several years TxDOT actually had more affected lane miles than HCTRA did. TxDOT has also been more proactive in making permanent repairs to the problem. A section of the Beltway 8 mainlanes between 45 and 59 on the north side was dug up and completely rebuilt in the late 1990s when the freeway was barely 10 years old because of this. And there are numerous bad sections on the Southwest Freeway that have been repaired, as well as the Beltway 8 frontage roads and Highway 6 just north of the Katy Freeway.

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