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Got this press release in the e-mail yesterday:


Funds Granted to US 290 Corridor Improvements

"Projects allow TxDOT to provide congestion relief for US 290 commuters."

HOUSTON - The Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Houston District is excited to announce that at its monthly meeting, the Houston-Galveston Area Council's Transportation Policy Council approved the several improvement projects along US 290, which will help ease congestion along the corridor. These projects are moving forward utilizing Proposition 12 bond funding previously allocated by the Texas Transportation Commission.

First is the US 290/BW 8 interchange area, known as Project G, which includes (1) the construction of a continuous frontage road along BW 8 at US 290, (2) construction of collector-distributor lanes on US 290 from W. Little York to FM 529, and (3) construction of the US 290 mainlanes and frontage roads from W. Little York to FM 529. Project G totals $144 million and is tentatively scheduled to go to contract for construction in July 2012.

Second are the Transportation Systems Management (TSM) projects along US 290 between Eldridge and Cypress Roshill/Fry Road. TSM is a program to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow through freeway operations improvements. These projects, totaling $6.5 million, include:

. US 290 intersection improvements at SH 6, Spring-Cypress, Skinner, and Cypress Rosehill-Fry. These will include dedicated right-turn lanes on both sides of US 290 at SH 6, as well as new left-turn lane options.

. Intersection improvements on the US 290 eastbound frontage road at Eldridge, including a dedicated right-turn lane onto Eldridge.

. Addition of an auxiliary lane on US 290 eastbound between Telge and Huffmeister.

. Addition of the US 290 westbound frontage road at Barker-Cypress.

TxDOT estimates the TSM projects will go to contract for construction in July 2012.

Once these projects are complete, they will enhance traffic flow along US 290 easing the commute for motorists.

The reality of the transportation funding crisis still presents real obstacles for advancing the US 290 Program. With the projected cost of the US 290 corridor improvements totaling $2.8 billion, there is still approximately $1.4 billon of the program unfunded. Despite these funding challenges, TxDOT continues to move forward utilizing the resources we have currently to bring congestion relief to commuters.

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I think Bauer Road is near the Grand Parkway ROW, but not on it. Back in 2008, there was a sign for a new strip mall next to the outlet mall to be anchored by H-E-B. I wonder if it's still planned?

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sign is still there....the other major HEB is only a few miles away on Barker Cypress so I doubt they'll move on it until the Parkway is built and more households get built...Outside of Fairfield and the area behind it, its pretty rural and an upscale HEB wouldn't fit that area

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HBCU, I recently noticed the construction at Bauer & 290 as well. This appears to be (finally) the beginning phases of the Hempstead Tollway out in that area. At least on the eastbound side. The new right-of-way being built along the westbound frontage roads may be ramps to the Grand Parkway's Segment E, which is the part that runs between I-10 and US 290. According to planning maps, the Grand Parkway will spill out onto 290 just east of Becker Rd., which is fairly close to Bauer.

I am not 100% certain as to the layout of the ramps and planned interchange, but it appears that 290's corridor will be significantly widened between Houston Premium Outlets and Roberts Rd./Katy-Hockley. Could be main lanes, could be exit ramps. At this point it's hard to tell.

I noticed that there is a ramp-like structure being built at the northwest corner of 290 & Bauer. My guess is that what we are seeing now is part of the Grand Parkway interchange, but it all goes hand in hand with the Hempstead Tollway, which will be an integral part of the design. Now, I am wondering how much of the tollway will be elevated, and how much will be built at ground level, as with the Westpark Tollway.

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So does anyone know for sure what the construction on 290 near the the Houston Premium Outlets is? There is construction all through the area with what looks like raps. Maybe its an over pass so that people can exit the outlet easier, but it seems much bigger. Is this part of the Grand Parkway? Looks like it could be a freeway interchange. If its for easier acess to the outlet, does that mean that they don't expect the road to be widened any time soon? Or is this construction a part of the widening?

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Wow! Its crazy to actually see it going up. I wonder if they are building that section which will cross 290 wide enough so that it won't have to be torn down when 290 is rebuilt? Also how many lanes is Grand Parkway in each direction? And lastley, will it be an interchange like beltway 8 in 290 or will it be a simple interchange?

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I think there is a plan somewhere on here about it. Yes, it will be a full interchange.

By the way, in terms of expanding 290, what was the little building that's currently being torn down in front of the NW Mall Macy's? I swear I remember it was CiCi's Pizza, but I'm not so sure now.

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what is happening at 290 and Bauer Road? They are doing construction out there

I think it's some new walmart or cvs.

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Somewhere in that general area was an announcement for a new power center anchored by H-E-B. Given that the sign has been there since at least spring 2008 and one is quite faded, don't know if it will ever come to fruition...

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Have you seen the growth around there? It will come. The economy just stalled it.

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I just viewed the online video of today's Texas Transportation Commission meeting.

http://www.dot.state.tx.us/about_us/commission/2012_meetings/media/mar29.htm

At 42 minutes a status update is provided for the US 290 project and a pending Memorandum of Understanding between TxDOT and Harris County.

The speaker talks about a 2-to-3 lane reversible toll facility for US 290 and adding one untolled lane in each direction from Loop 610 to SH 99 (Grand Parkway). My interpretation of his statement is that the Hempstead Tollway is cancelled and instead two lanes previously planned to be free lanes on US 290 will be converted into tolled/HOV lanes.

Has anyone heard about this, or can anyone confirm this?

The speaker also talked about the SH 288 toll lanes and speaks about a two-lane reversible facility. Previous recommendation was for a four-lane tolled facility with two lanes each way. So it sounds like the project has been downsized.

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Hmm wonder why they would downsize this project? Didn't TxDOT have a few extra billion dollars to spend?

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If done right I think a fully reversible, mult-lane toll facility could be pretty good. I've often wished the Westpark was 4 lanes fully reversible in the mornings and evenings. Everyone go in... everyone go out. If you're going the opposite way, use the frontage roads. I'm sure the on/off ramps would be a cluster of despair and confuse the hell out of everyone, but it would significantly improve peak period flow towards town. If anyone has it, I'd be interested to know the counter-flow volumes on the Westpark, The volume outbound in the morning looks pretty paltry.

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I suspect the flow on Westpark is more balanced than you might think, with many employers in Westchase and the Energy Corridor receiving employees from inside the loop. Regardless, there simply isn't enough capacity on 59 to take a full 4 lanes inbound. They can feed one lane into 59, and one lane into Uptown/Post Oak, and that's about the limit of what either can handle.

On the other hand, I do think 288 and 290 are prime candidate for reversible lanes, since the demand is truly single-directional on the morning and evening commute, and there should be multiple places they can feed the additional capacity (whether surface streets or freeways).

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So, basically converting to US-290 into a toll road entirely and scrapping free main lanes, basically? That doesn't sound good.

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So, basically converting to US-290 into a toll road entirely and scrapping free main lanes, basically? That doesn't sound good.

No, that's not what I suggested. The plans which are posted on the web site (http://my290.com/) show no HOV or toll lanes on US 290. The toll lanes are on the proposed Hempstead Tollway.

My interpretation of the speaker's comments is that two of the planned new free lanes on US 290 will be converted to HOV/Toll lanes and the Hempstead Tollway is canceled. That means the net gain of free, general-purpose main lanes on US 290 is generally one in each direction rather than two. So there would typically be four free lanes in each direction.

You can view his comments on the video and make your own conclusions.

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I hope they're not changing the plan. Here's an item I was about to post on my blog. Hope it's not already out of date. It's Alan Clark of HGAC interviewing the TXDoT regional head about 290.

If you're interested in the ongoing expansion plans for the 290 corridor (including the Hempstead toll road), check out this comprehensive video by HGAC. Some good visualizations make it easier to understand all the improvements. They also discuss the financial crunch that TXDoT is facing with the gas tax not being adjusted for inflation. They only have funds to fix bottlenecks at 610 and Beltway 8, but they need a lot more to implement the plan throughout the entire corridor, which is one of the most congested in the city and the state.

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Maybe resistance from nearby businesses caused it to go? I mean, there's was a recently opened "Jack's Carpet" that IIRC was in the ROW zone.

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I'm hoping that they'll still rebuild 290 to the same width as was originally proposed so that managed lanes could be reconfigured as general lanes if and when the Hempstead Toll Road were eventually built. That would be acceptable.

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This item from the agenda for the upcoming meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission provides a summary

http://www.txdot.gov...rs/apr26/4b.pdf

So, it will be official that the toll lanes will be on US 290. The Hempstead Tollway is deferred and could be built in a future phase..

It is unclear to me if Harris County is going to receive the revenue from the toll collection on the toll lanes, or just collect the tolls. Since Harris County is contributing $400 million, it seems likely that Harris County will retain the revenue.

Edited by MaxConcrete

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Here's the latest.

-----------------

TxDOT, Houston-Area Partners Advance Two High-Profile Projects

Department moving forward with development on SH 288, US 290/Hempstead corridor

AUSTIN - Today, the Texas Transportation Commission authorized the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to advance two high-profile projects in the Houston area. The SH 288 project, from US 59 to the Harris/Brazoria county line, and the US 290/Hempstead corridor, from I-610 to SH 99 (Grand Parkway), will move forward through a partnership between TxDOT and Harris County.

"Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and County Commissioners Lee, Radack, Cagle and Morman should be commended for their tireless efforts championing these projects and working to bring relief to Houston-area motorists," said Ned Holmes, Texas Transportation Commissioner. "Improvements to these roadways are critical to the region's continued mobility and economic vitality."

The SH 288 corridor in the southern portion of Harris County is a highly congested corridor in the region, carrying over 180,000 vehicles per day. In an effort to address transportation needs, TxDOT has been authorized to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) seeking firms interested in a comprehensive development agreement for the SH 288 project.

The US 290/Hempstead corridor in the northwest portion of Harris County is one of the most mobility-constrained corridors in the region and includes multiple segments on the state's 100 most congested roadway segments. Proposed improvements include using a phased approach to reconstruct US 290, including building managed lanes operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

"Regional partnerships are enabling innovative delivery options to advance these critically needed projects," Holmes said. "Improving mobility in the SH 288 and US 290 corridors will relieve congestion, reduce travel time and improve air quality, as well as provide social and economic benefits for our region, our state and the nation."

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This press release just in from TXDOT.


TEXANS TO SPEND LESS TIME ON US 290 AROUND HOUSTON AS KEY CONSTRUCTION COMPLETION DATES MOVE UP

Legislative funding to speed up projects by decades on top congested highway

HOUSTON- Texans can expect to get some much-needed traffic relief on one of the top 25 congested roads in Texas. Thanks to $168 million in funding provided by state legislators and part of the additional $2 billion TxDOT identified earlier this year, some key construction projects along US 290 in Houston will be completed up to two decades earlier than originally scheduled. The completion of critical projects also means Texans will see a 40 percent decrease in time spent in traffic along US 290.

"This is a huge win for Texas drivers," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT Executive Director. "Not only will sections of this road be ready 20 years ahead of schedule, they could save drivers 20 minutes in commute time during peak hours on US 290 from IH 610 to SH 99." Wilson added, "Credit is due to state lawmakers and their vision to help TxDOT build the infrastructure so sorely needed in our great state."

TxDOT and the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) are working to finalize an agreement to provide the needed funding allocated by the Legislature. Under the agreement, TxDOT will contribute $787 million and HCTRA $400 million putting all US 290 projects between IH 610 and SH 99 (Grand Parkway) under construction by the middle of 2014.

"The US 290 project is a great example of how regional partnerships are helping TxDOT move forward with critical transportation options for Texas motorists," added Ted Houghton, Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission. "This project is receiving broad community support, and we are grateful to our partners for helping us move full speed ahead on an important infrastructure improvement that will save Texans time and help them be more productive."

"Our economy and our quality of life depend on our transportation system and our ability to efficiently move people, goods and services throughout the state," Lt. Governor Dewhurst said. "We all want to see more roads built so that hardworking Texans can spend less time in traffic and more time at home with their families, but we must resist the natural urge to spend money on easy projects and instead spend our hardworking taxpayers' dollars on projects that will have the greatest impact on our economy and quality of life -- like the US 290 project. I compliment TxDOT and their new leadership, and I look forward to working with them to ensure that we meet the needs of our growing state and thriving economy."

Project plans include the reconstruction and widening of US 290 - four general purpose lanes for in- and outbound traffic and two to three reversible managed lanes in the middle carrying HOV and tolled traffic, and future construction of the parallel Hempstead Tollway. Plans also call for a bike trail and right-of-way preservation for a high-capacity transit system. Additionally, the completed projects along US 290 will bring about safety improvements that should reduce the number of accidents that typically cause big delays.

"Addressing congestion reduces frustration, time spent and potential collisions." Wilson said. "We appreciate the Lt. Governor's leadership in helping TxDOT address these challenges to provide a safe and reliable transportation system."

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Thoughts and prayers for everyone who has to make the daily trip down 290 during the construction. The ticking time bomb of the inevitable 290 reconstruction is getting closer...

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Public hearing about 290 tonight and Wednesday:

-------------------

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will conduct public meetings to discuss a proposed interim design phase project for approved transportation improvements for the US 290 corridor in Harris County. This interim design would incorporate a reversible managed lane (toll) facility along the US 290 corridor from SH 99 to IH 610.

The meetings will be held on:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sheraton Brookhollow

3000 North Loop West

Houston, Texas 77092

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Berry Center

8877 Barker Cypress Road

Cypress, Texas 77433

Both meetings will be held in an open house format from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., with a formal presentation at 7:00 p.m. Representatives from TxDOT staff will be on hand to answer questions during the Open House, and display boards will be available for viewing showing the proposed managed lane facility as well as detailed proposed schematics. During the 7:00 p.m., presentation, slides will be shown detailing the proposed improvements along with an animated video with improvements of the IH 610/US 290 interchange and US 290/BW 8 interchange.

In the 2011 Texas Legislature, lawmakers forged the way to provide TxDOT with the tools and flexibility to leverage resources under Rider 42, which focuses on the state's most congested roadways. With Rider 42 and voter-approved Proposition 12 and Proposition 14 bond proceeds, TxDOT is now positioned to move forward. TxDOT and the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) are working to finalize an agreement committing the needed funding allocated by the Legislature - $1.4 billion from TxDOT and $400 million from HCTRA for a total project cost of $1.8 billion.

In collaboration with HCTRA, TxDOT's team of innovative engineers and planners discovered an interim solution to the ultimate plan that we could deliver up to 20 years ahead of schedule using the same footprint defined and approved during environmental review. Plans for US 290 mainlane reconstruction now incorporate managed lanes, a flexible concept combining HOV lanes and tolled lanes to provide drivers with options, similar to the Katy Freeway Managed Lanes on IH 10. Motorists would drive on four general-purpose lanes in each direction, with two or three reversible managed lanes.

"As a result of this additional funding and partnership, we not only are able to get relief to motorists sooner, but we are also bringing to Texans a huge savings both in the reduction of construction costs and by mitigating significant user time delays related to wasted time and fuel," said Michael W. Alford, P.E., TxDOT Houston District Engineer.

Written comments relative to the proposed project may be presented at the meeting or submitted to the Director of Project Development, Texas Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 1386, Houston, Texas, 77251-1386, on or before January 2, 2013. Comments may also be emailed to Hou-PIOWebMail@txdot.gov. For more information on the public meetings contact Karen Othon, US 290 Public Information Officer, at (713) 354-1532.

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is it double deck, or just multi-level?

 

when I think double deck, I think lanes directly over the top of the other lanes, on the gulf freeway upper section that allows for ingress/egress from downtown it's offset from the main through lanes.

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Plans also call for a bike trail and right-of-way preservation for a high-capacity transit system. 

 

Did they do this for the Katy Freeway also? If so, sure doesn't seem like it with how Energy Corridor buildings are so close to the frontage road.

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is it double deck, or just multi-level?

 

when I think double deck, I think lanes directly over the top of the other lanes, on the gulf freeway upper section that allows for ingress/egress from downtown it's offset from the main through lanes.

 

That's exactly what I was thinking.  I-35 through part of Austin is double-decked.  I-45 south of downtown Houston is not.

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Actually, the Gulf Freeway south of downtown to Calhoun is a double deck freeway. It opened in 1988.

 

I only consider that a multi-level section of 45 (btw, take that stretch of 45 everyday to go to UofH from the Heights). If you watch that animation at 610 and 290, although it is in fact multi-level, it also has a double decker section with those manage lanes being built immediately above the main highway.

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Will this fix the west loop "meatgrinder"?

 

 

the only thing that would alleviate the West Loop problem is another N/S freeway connector to 59 between the Beltway and Shepherd. This widening will just pour more volume into the unexpandable West Loop. The W Loop can't be decked b/c of environmental (mostly noise) concerns, and it can't be widened b/c of Memorial Park on both sides of the freeway.

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so basically on 290 inbound there is an I-10 inbound exit around mangum/dacoma that spits you on I-10 inbound without any exits on the west loop and the same from I-10 to outbound 290?

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so basically on 290 inbound there is an I-10 inbound exit around mangum/dacoma that spits you on I-10 inbound without any exits on the west loop and the same from I-10 to outbound 290?

 

Yes, and thus this part of the project removes traffic from the West Loop.

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It (quite effectively) removes traffic from the West Loop between 290 & 10.  An expanded 290 could bring a greater flow of traffic down to the bottleneck just south of 10... for which there is no obvious solution.  

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If worse comes to worse, I predict they'll build a second level of the West Loop trenched/underground, similar to what's being done to 635 in Dallas.

the only thing that would alleviate the West Loop problem is another N/S freeway connector to 59 between the Beltway and Shepherd. This widening will just pour more volume into the unexpandable West Loop. The W Loop can't be decked b/c of environmental (mostly noise) concerns, and it can't be widened b/c of Memorial Park on both sides of the freeway.

 

 

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yeah, a Galleria bypass on 610, from before 290 to after 59 (or before 59 to after 290, if you're going the other direction)? maybe have entrances/exits to freeways, but no local exits/entries? that would be really tall around the various freeway interchanges.

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The West Loop between IH 10 and US 59 is a chronic problem that will never get better and most likely become worse.

 

In my view, the only way we'll see improvements to the West Loop is if the Uptown Houston Association demands improvements and is willing to pay for a large share of the cost. I think the only financially feasible alternative will be elevated lanes. There is definitely a visual impact, so traffic will need to become worse before Uptown Houston will accept elevated lanes. But it may come to that eventually.

 

In the short term, Uptown Houston is pushing a busway on Post Oak and a section of the West Loop. The link below says $76.5 million of the $121.5 million cost will be local - it isn't clear to me how much is provided by Uptown Houston, but I think most of the $76.5 million is Uptown money.

http://www.ridemetro.org/AboutUs/Board/working_meetings/2012/082312/Uptown-POB-Transit-to-METRO-Committee082312.pdf

The Post Oak busway ranks very high with HGAC, so I'm expecting it to happen. New connectors at the Loop and US 59 also rank high and will likely be built fairly soon.

http://www.h-gac.com/taq/commitees/TPC/2013/02-feb/docs/ITEM%2008%20--%202013-2016%20TIP%20Call%20for%20Projects.pdf

 

That busway will have a negligible impact on West Loop traffic. Once it is done, the Uptown Houston Association may turn its attention back to roadway improvements. So, I think it will be at least several years before there is serious consideration of any improvements to the West Loop. I hope consideration will come sooner, but for now the political effort is going into the busway.

Edited by MaxConcrete

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I was aware a huge portion of Northwest Mall's parking lot was ripped up for the redoing of the 290/I-10 interchange (which, if I understand correctly, will give direct access to I-10 from 290), but wow, the damage from Google Earth is extensive. I'm surprised they didn't knock down the old Foley's/Macy's building in the process.

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The West Loop between IH 10 and US 59 is a chronic problem that will never get better and most likely become worse.

 

In my view, the only way we'll see improvements to the West Loop is if the Uptown Houston Association demands improvements and is willing to pay for a large share of the cost. I think the only financially feasible alternative will be elevated lanes. There is definitely a visual impact, so traffic will need to become worse before Uptown Houston will accept elevated lanes. But it may come to that eventually.

 

In the short term, Uptown Houston is pushing a busway on Post Oak and a section of the West Loop. The link below says $76.5 million of the $121.5 million cost will be local - it isn't clear to me how much is provided by Uptown Houston, but I think most of the $76.5 million is Uptown money.

http://www.ridemetro.org/AboutUs/Board/working_meetings/2012/082312/Uptown-POB-Transit-to-METRO-Committee082312.pdf

The Post Oak busway ranks very high with HGAC, so I'm expecting it to happen. New connectors at the Loop and US 59 also rank high and will likely be built fairly soon.

http://www.h-gac.com/taq/commitees/TPC/2013/02-feb/docs/ITEM%2008%20--%202013-2016%20TIP%20Call%20for%20Projects.pdf

 

That busway will have a negligible impact on West Loop traffic. Once it is done, the Uptown Houston Association may turn its attention back to roadway improvements. So, I think it will be at least several years before there is serious consideration of any improvements to the West Loop. I hope consideration will come sooner, but for now the political effort is going into the busway.

 

This.

 

The BRT or LRT is a toy compared to what is needed. It's not that BRT or LRT are necessarily bad or a even bad investment, it's just that the problem is 100 times bigger. Here are examples that I deal with often (but thankfully not daily) that will not be at all improved by the BRT/LRT:

-dead stop at 59 WB to 610 NB at 1pm pretty much every time I'm there

-2-3 light-cycle backup on 59 WB feeder to NB 610 feeder just south of Richmond pretty much every time I'm there

-sometimes going 20-30 mph at 10 am on a weekend

 

And here's what will be worsened with BRT: traffic at Westheimer @ Post Oak.

 

I love the Arboretum in Memorial Park (loved it more before the drought Summer 2011), but I would gladly give up a 100 foot strip there if it meant getting a soundwall for the park and having the West Loop actually being a useable freeway again.

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