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Metro Rail East End/Southeast Line Downtown Construction pics and updates


ricco67

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Here are pics I took yesterday:

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Heading down west along capital, the rail is supposed to take the south side of this street. It had been awhile since I have seen the PDF's, so I thought it would be on the north side for some reason, so I shot accordingly.

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The garage entrance is where you see that white car leaving. It's going to be curious as to how this entry and exit out will occur.

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This is the future site of the "Smith Station", as you see it'll go up against the Fed Courthouse parking.

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The corner of Bagby, Rusk, and Capital. I wasn't entirely sure where it would go or how far, so I turned back at this point.

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The tracks are going to be on the south side of the street.

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One of the garages that will have to deal with the construction as well the the track afterward.

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this is at the 1100 Rusk. The station is supposed to be located on this block, but I don't see how it's going to be done because part of the station might block the entry of this garage and I think the only entrance to this surface lot. The garage has an additional entrance and exit on the San Jacinto side, so it should still stay operational. I would imagine the same thing would happen to the surface lot which is in heavy use by Club Quarters.

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This is the site of the crawford station. Since it's just a simply surface lot, it shouldn't be a bit deal.

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Again, I haven't seen the PDF in awhile, but I know that the track starts to curve near here towards Texas.

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I'm assuming this is part of the utility work they're doing. On capital, the tracks are supposed to turn approximately where that third backhoe from the right is.

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I believe the route should take out this wall and come down this general direction for West bound track.

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Here is the current view of Texas where the tracks will converge and head down Texas.

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Regarding how far west the tracks will go, last I heard trains will turn back on a new bridge over Buffalo Bayou.

After looking at the PDF file I downloaded, it appears that it will go under the current roadway/bridge that eventually turns into Memorial.

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Cool, thanks. These will be interesting to look back on in a few years after construction is completed.

Absolutely. There are places in Houston that I've known intimately for years, yet once they've been demolished and the site rebuilt, I'm hard pressed to remember what once was there. These pictures will probably solve some future arguments - thanks, Ricco.

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  • 2 years later...

There will be a service interruption on the Red Line this weekend in order to install tracks for the new line. It will continue to run between Fannin South and DT Transit center. Saturday is supposed to be a ride free day, for Museum Day.

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FWIW I grew up in Calgary who (like many cities) is light years ahead of Houston as far as rail goes, but one thing they do there is make all rail free for the downtown core. I think this would be a smart move for Houston to do as well, especially since the east side is now booming on its own. Moving east side workers/conventioneers/sports enthusiasts quickly and freely to the theatre district or other hot areas of downtown seems like nothing but a positive to me.

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FWIW I grew up in Calgary who (like many cities) is light years ahead of Houston as far as rail goes, but one thing they do there is make all rail free for the downtown core. I think this would be a smart move for Houston to do as well, especially since the east side is now booming on its own. Moving east side workers/conventioneers/sports enthusiasts quickly and freely to the theatre district or other hot areas of downtown seems like nothing but a positive to me.

How do they handle ticketing on their system? I like the idea of free downtown rides too, but wonder how it would be enforced with our ticketing system (which is pretty standard for light rail systems). Are all riders "home free", so to speak, while in the downtown zone?

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Here's what's going on with the downtown crossing construction. They have to avoid Texans weekends.

http://ridemetro.org...rline082312.pdf

Don't avoid the Texans, they're undefeated this season so far. :D

This is going to be interesting to follow. What threw me off is they are going to be able to transfer trains from one line to another as the need arises.

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How do they handle ticketing on their system? I like the idea of free downtown rides too, but wonder how it would be enforced with our ticketing system (which is pretty standard for light rail systems). Are all riders "home free", so to speak, while in the downtown zone?

That's how it works* in Seattle. Within the downtown district, all buses and trains are free.

If you board a bus or train in the downtown area, you pay when you get off, but only if out get off outside the "free zone." If you board outside the downtown free zone area, you pay when you get on.

/off topic

*The system is going away soon because it seriously crimps the ability of the transit agencies (there are several involved) in routing. They also claim that it's costing them money, but I think that's a red herring. I have yet to see a Sound Transit/King County Metro bus operator that didn't allow someone to ride even if they had no money. The philosophy is that the transit system exists to move people, not to make money. So people who can't pay are generally allowed to ride anyway. I've seen it happen dozens, if not hundreds of times.

Doesn't work on the county or state ferries, though; or on Sounder, Amtrak, or Sound Transit trains. Those guys are all hardcore.

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That's how it works* in Seattle. Within the downtown district, all buses and trains are free.

If you board a bus or train in the downtown area, you pay when you get off, but only if out get off outside the "free zone." If you board outside the downtown free zone area, you pay when you get on.

That seems like a bit of an unenforceable mess.

According to King County Metro website, the free ride area never applied to rail, but it ends as to buses Sept. 29.

How could it not cost the transit agencies money to give away rides? I don't see how it would crimp any route planning. THAT seems like a red herring (and one that I never saw mentioned in what I've read about the ending of the Ride Free area. The only reason I saw was the loss of revenue, specifically the revenue that the city of Seattle formerly paid to the King County Metro for the free ride area downtown.

Edited by Houston19514
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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

If by angle you mean superelevation (banking) then the answer is two parts.

 

1. They are superelevated, at least slightly. That curve will be good for 10-20 mph I'd guess; I haven't looked that closely.

 

2. Where they aren't supervelevated, or only have 1/2 inch or so, it's because they are crossing traffic lanes and the city doesn't like the unevenness. Seems silly given how uneven those roads were before (e.g. North Main) but that's Public Works for ya.

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I understand the above points, I was just expressing frustration at the current setup of the Red line where there are multiple places where the train slows to like 5 or 10 mph for a gentle curve, which seems like overkill.  

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I understand the above points, I was just expressing frustration at the current setup of the Red line where there are multiple places where the train slows to like 5 or 10 mph for a gentle curve, which seems like overkill.  

 

Oh, don't get me started. For all but the sharpest curves (and maybe even those to some degree) the speed limits are set based on passenger comfort, not any safety criteria. Google unbalanced superelevation or cant deficiency if you're interested, but basically the speeds are set to keep lateral forces within an acceptable range. I don't know what maximum underbalance they've set (or even if they set speeds based on rigorous methods) but it seems absurdly low. It's really a double standard when you consider the lateral forces that are tolerated on buses. Greater underbalance and higher speeds can lead to accelerated rail wear, but I don't think this is as much an issue for light rail as it is for railroads.

 

Then there's just the inconsistency with the rest of the line. A few years ago, an operator in training with no passengers took the Fannin-Braeswood curve too fast and derailed. The consultant they brought in to investigate said that speed limits in the area were too confusing and so now the entire segment between TMC TC and Smith Lands is a 15 zone. Meanwhile on the North Line, speed limits change dozens of times a mile and are sometimes different for each track. So are speed limit changes "too confusing" for operators or aren't they? Perception is reality for many people, and when they ride or see the train crawling down Braeswood and being passed by cars going 25 they perceive it to be slow. That's not good for METRORail's image. Plus, running this segment at its former 25 or 30 mph could probably squeeze a minute or two out of a round trip which adds up to huge savings in operation costs over hundreds of trips per day.

 

While we're at it, let's talk about train horns. At intersections protected only by red traffic lights, the trains glide through noiselessly unless the operator sees a hazard and sounds the bell or horn. But, in the spirit of the FRA horn rule, light rail trains blast their horns at all intersections with gates, bells, and flashers. But wait, these gates provide complete closure of all lanes and the bells make plenty of noise. This is enough for FRA quiet zones along the Terminal Sub here in town. Still, METRO blasts trackside properties with horns 21 hours a day whether or not there's a soul or a vehicle in sight. This seems like a deterrent to development along the rail line. I sure wouldn't want to live in those apartments at Braeswood & Greenbriar or those townhomes at North Main & Boundary.

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  • 1 month later...

East and Southeast will open for service in September or October probably.

 

They were testing the trains on the Southeast (Purple) line yesterday -- they had all sorts of styrofoam pieces attached to the trains -- it looked like they were checking clearance between signs, poles, etc....they had police all over the place blocking roads and driveways since people aren't looking for or expecting the trains yet.

 

They had also changed Texas Avenue in front of BBVA Stadium to 2-way traffic starting tomorrow - they added 1 westbound lane between Chartres and Bastrop

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  • 2 months later...

Does anyone really believe this?

Well I believe it'll eventually open. Lol. When we moved here in the East End the finish date was to be 2012. Oh, how I remember. They are almost two years late and the whole line still isn't complete! I have almost front row seats from my house to the rail line and this past month it's been testing heavily as if it is already in use, back and forth, honking its horn. It'll get done at some point but it is getting closer, despite the snails pace.

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I agree construction of the rail lines seems to be happening awfully slow, but these last couple years have been the most ambitious construction/expansion of Houston's light rail system since it's inception a decade ago. Were tripling the amount of track miles in a year, from 8 to (almost) 24 miles. Pretty damn good IMO.

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  • 1 month later...

umm.. the transfer stations to the red line/central station are at the Texaco block, one block over... not the block immediately next to central station? what. the. well, you know... why did they decide to do this and why couldnt the stations be next to Central Station, eliminating a block and a half transfer when the weather is miserable?

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umm.. the transfer stations to the red line/central station are at the Texaco block, one block over... not the block immediately next to central station? what. the. well, you know... why did they decide to do this and why couldnt the stations be next to Central Station, eliminating a block and a half transfer when the weather is miserable?

 

I've been wondering the same thing.  Seems pretty ridiculous.  I suppose there must be some reason...  I hope?

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I cannot help but speculate that someone or another did not want the stop in front of BG Place... perhaps someone who's also been known to throw hissy fits about sidewalk newspaper racks (back in the day) and street parking adjacent to his pretty pretty new building.  IDK, but perhaps my opinion is formed by the large posters in the lobby of that building giving the tender souls inside some "Tips For Dealing With Panhandlers."  That same block of Capitol has a building a-buildin' from that same developer.  As a practical matter, there's a parking garage entrance/exit in the block of Rusk immediately west, which takes it out of play.  So, long, perhaps hot, perhaps wet, perhaps cold walk - but mass transit's for icky people anyway, so who cares?

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The blocks between Main and Fannin have turnouts for the track connections to Main Street. A train on the diverging route will overhang to the outside, hitting the platform edge if one were built. ADA specifies very tight tolerances for gaps between the train and the platform so moving the platform edge away from the track wouldn't be possible.

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The blocks between Main and Fannin have turnouts for the track connections to Main Street. A train on the diverging route will overhang to the outside, hitting the platform edge if one were built. ADA specifies very tight tolerances for gaps between the train and the platform so moving the platform edge away from the track wouldn't be possible.

Thanks JamesL

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The new lines won't be opening this year after all....

 

Riders will wait a while longer for two new light rail lines, Houston transit officials acknowledged Wednesday, as unexpected repair work and ongoing problems have made a 2014 opening impossible.

Less than two months ago, Metropolitan Transit Authority officials said the agency's two new lines would open in December - just under the wire of the 2014 opening they pledged when work started in 2011.

Since then, however, continuing problems with axle counters along the route - the counters are part of the system that tracks trains along the line - and a downtown construction error that severed a chilled water line have made it impossible to open the lines this year.

The line break occurred under Metro's new section of track south of Minute Maid Park. As a result, an entire section of the roadway, rails and communications system along the new rail lines had to be replaced.

The segment serves both the Green Line that runs from downtown along Harrisburg and the Purple Line which connects downtown to the Palm Center Transit Center south of the University of Houston. The replacement will delay testing of the lines - a requirement before service can start.

"We're working to get a firm idea of what timeline we're on," Metro CEO Tom Lambert said Wednesday.

He said officials plan to present a revised schedule to Metro's board Sept. 25.

 

 

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The blocks between Main and Fannin have turnouts for the track connections to Main Street. A train on the diverging route will overhang to the outside, hitting the platform edge if one were built. ADA specifies very tight tolerances for gaps between the train and the platform so moving the platform edge away from the track wouldn't be possible.

 

Darn.  Another conspiracy theory bites the dust.  :ph34r:

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