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illusionescape

Freight Rail Line on Commerce Street

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There is a freight rail line that runs down the center of Commerce Street between St. Charles Street and Palmer Street. Does it even get used anymore? I don't think so. But it is an annoyance driving down the street since it creates a very uneven roadway for drivers. There is a lot of development on this street with the Tricon Home development and the Urban Lofts Development. Anyone know if the East End plans on removing the tracks?

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i believe last summer while riding my bike back from downtown there was a train on it. not sure of the frequency of use though.

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There is a freight rail line that runs down the center of Commerce Street between St. Charles Street and Palmer Street. Does it even get used anymore? I don't think so. But it is an annoyance driving down the street since it creates a very uneven roadway for drivers. There is a lot of development on this street with the Tricon Home development and the Urban Lofts Development. Anyone know if the East End plans on removing the tracks?

Past Drennan it was already converted into the Harrisburg-Sunset Rails-to-Trails bicycle path: http://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/bikeways/harrisburg.htm Commerce is a bikeway, so when the rest of the rail is removed, I would like to see the trail finished into downtown.

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Past Drennan it was already converted into the Harrisburg-Sunset Rails-to-Trails bicycle path: http://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/bikeways/harrisburg.htm Commerce is a bikeway, so when the rest of the rail is removed, I would like to see the trail finished into downtown.

Hey kylejack, where is this bike path that you're talking about? Looks nice from the photos. It actually runs on Commerce? Or is it on Harrisburg? I can't tell from the website description.

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Hey kylejack, where is this bike path that you're talking about? Looks nice from the photos. It actually runs on Commerce? Or is it on Harrisburg? I can't tell from the website description.

go east on commerce from the train tracks you want removed and you'll run right into it.

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Hey kylejack, where is this bike path that you're talking about? Looks nice from the photos. It actually runs on Commerce? Or is it on Harrisburg? I can't tell from the website description.

Drive away from downtown on Commerce until you hit a deadend at Drennan. At the deadend the bike path begins. They tore up all the rail and replaced it with a bikepath. The old rail went down a right-of-way that is between Sherman and Harrisburg. Map of the trail You can still see the rail route on Google Maps here but click to switch to Satellite view and you'll see that there's a paved bike trail instead of rail now. The bike path has a few on-street portions in some low-traffic neighborhoods, then resumes on an established path before terminating at Hidalgo Park. There's a really cool old railroad bridge next to Hidalgo Park, as well as a turning basin for turning ships around before sending them back down the Ship Channel. I took a few pics at the end by Hidalgo Park, right-arrow to cycle through.

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Drive away from downtown on Commerce until you hit a deadend at Drennan. At the deadend the bike path begins. They tore up all the rail and replaced it with a bikepath. The old rail went down a right-of-way that is between Sherman and Harrisburg. Map of the trail You can still see the rail route on Google Maps here but click to switch to Satellite view and you'll see that there's a paved bike trail instead of rail now. The bike path has a few on-street portions in some low-traffic neighborhoods, then resumes on an established path before terminating at Hidalgo Park. There's a really cool old railroad bridge next to Hidalgo Park, as well as a turning basin for turning ships around before sending them back down the Ship Channel. I took a few pics at the end by Hidalgo Park, right-arrow to cycle through.

Yes, but the spur that veers left off of Commerce Street near Velasco is still intact, and yes it does get light use. It leads to a Union Pacific rail yard that stretches between Navigation and the Buffalo Bayou. As near as I can tell, they just use it to store excess rolling stock. The tracks used to extend over the Bayou and join with the line that is north of and parallels Clinton Dr.

About a year and a half ago I was checking out the junk in the General Supply junk store that's right nearby, and Union Pacific had a contractor dismantling out about half of the tracks in the yard. I walked over to watch the work and to check out all the steel that he was removing. He came over, concerned that I was going to take some, and explained that UP pays federal taxes by the track mile regardless of whether they get any use, so they were dismantling about half of that rail yard to save on taxes; apparently the feds audit the material that is removed to verify how much trackage was dismantled, and if I took any it would trip up that whole process. But there is a purpose for the rest of it, and it isn't going away any time soon. I stuck around and watched the guy tear out more trackage for a few minutes, then moved on. Steel rails make these otherworldly sounds when they're yanked around by heavy machinery; and they actually bend very readily like noodles. And printed somewhere on them was the date of manufacture. Many of the rails were pre-1900.

Personally, I hope that those tracks stay around for a long time. I like to drive down Commerce and straddle the rails.

Edited by TheNiche

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Yes, but the spur that veers left off of Commerce Street near Velasco is still intact, and yes it does get light use. It leads to a Union Pacific rail yard that stretches between Navigation and the Buffalo Bayou. As near as I can tell, they just use it to store excess rolling stock. The tracks used to extend over the Bayou and join with the line that is north of and parallels Clinton Dr.

I have no problem with the rail as-is, I just want the right-of-way preserved to finish out a bike path if they ever no longer have use for it, especially since traffic is so low in that area.

While we're on the subject of rails converted to trail, there's another one that I use all the time, the Columbia Tap. It starts at Walker and Dowling and goes through the Third Ward all the way to MacGregor by the Med Center. A bridge to take it across MacGregor and Brays Bayou is currently under construction.

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I have no problem with the rail as-is, I just want the right-of-way preserved to finish out a bike path if they ever no longer have use for it, especially since traffic is so low in that area.

While we're on the subject of rails converted to trail, there's another one that I use all the time, the Columbia Tap. It starts at Walker and Dowling and goes through the Third Ward all the way to MacGregor by the Med Center. A bridge to take it across MacGregor and Brays Bayou is currently under construction.

Traffic is so low right there that the street might as well be the bike path. But the right of way has to be preserved as a street because converting the whole right of way to a bike path would eliminate access to many homes and businesses.

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Traffic is so low right there that the street might as well be the bike path. But the right of way has to be preserved as a street because converting the whole right of way to a bike path would eliminate access to many homes and businesses.

There is plenty of room to share. :) Run the bike path along the SW side of the street.

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Figured I’d revive this long-dead thread to see if there is any updated information out there.

 

From what I’ve seen, the rail line down Commerce has been completely abandoned. The last activity I saw was a small “shunter” engine for moving rail cars going down the line about three years ago. The ROW and tracks themselves between Commerce and Canal, and Canal and Navigation, have been overgrown with brush. There has also been some patchwork on the tracks as they pass Canal to smooth the road over, which inhibits their use for trains. Lastly, there have been walking paths built over the tracks as part of the Headquarters development on Canal.

 

My question is this: if the rail lines have been abandoned, is Commerce St currently under consideration to be redone? It would be nice to have it repaved with dedicated bike lanes. 

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It's on the bike plan as a short-term opportunity, so I wonder if the city is planning to take a lane (like on Lamar) for bike lanes before any complete reconstruction that remove or cap the rails.

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Honestly, I think it would be interesting to keep the track for posterity. Its a really interesting infrastructure situation that isn't really evident in another other place in the city. There are probably a bunch of different ways to keep the rail and incorporate it into the redesign of the road.

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1 hour ago, Luminare said:

Honestly, I think it would be interesting to keep the track for posterity. Its a really interesting infrastructure situation that isn't really evident in another other place in the city. There are probably a bunch of different ways to keep the rail and incorporate it into the redesign of the road.

 

I don’t disagree, and when I first moved to the area I found the tracks down the middle of the street to be a really interesting feature. It was especially cool the few times there was any activity on the rail.

 

However, in the last few years, Commerce has degraded fairly rapidly. There are many potholes near the tracks, and especially on the other portion where the second set of tracks was paved over. There is also a bunch of washout from the two portions where cars cross the tracks in a perpendicular fashion, near St. Charles and again at Palmer.

 

At this point, the entire street needs to be redone along this stretch. If the tracks aren’t being used, I see no reason why they should remain.

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1 hour ago, thedistrict84 said:

 

I don’t disagree, and when I first moved to the area I found the tracks down the middle of the street to be a really interesting feature. It was especially cool the few times there was any activity on the rail.

 

However, in the last few years, Commerce has degraded fairly rapidly. There are many potholes near the tracks, and especially on the other portion where the second set of tracks was paved over. There is also a bunch of washout from the two portions where cars cross the tracks in a perpendicular fashion, near St. Charles and again at Palmer.

 

At this point, the entire street needs to be redone along this stretch. If the tracks aren’t being used, I see no reason why they should remain.

 

While in Germany, I found a few small towns that still kept decommissioned trolley tracks as part of the road. It was cool. Like seeing what the town looked liked in the past. I think they should keep the tracks, but ripout the asphalt and go back in with brick or concrete pavers. Doesn't make sense to put in full concrete foundations with the tracks still there. Everyone always talks about architectural heritage preservation, but very little thought goes into industrial/infrastructural heritage. This was a major railroad town for many years and it would be cool to maintain these unique moments for future generations. Now if they are going to change it then do it fully. I hate when they take tracks away and still keep the railroad crossing "humps" in the streets. That is just silly.

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if they keep the tracks, they'll need to figure out how to fix the road for cyclists. this is a bicycle route, and currently it is not a usable road for cycling.

 

personally, I don't find it adds anything positive to the road and there could be many more useful things done with that road considering how wide it is.

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