A Secret Deal on Wheatley High School; Thomas Edison’s Video of the Great Storm Aftermath

Crosby St. sidewalk looking south towards West Dallas

Photo of Crosby St. sidewalk near W. Dallas St.: Walker Agnew, Jr. via Twitter


16 Comment

  • @Grand Parkway
    Aren’t the #’s of ‘users’ reported artificially high right now due to construction on 290? It’s a great strategy by the Houston office of TxDOT to build a tollway prematurely / that’s not really needed:
    1.) Build tollway
    2.) congest the hell out of a main highway with construction for years and induce use of tollway as alternative
    4.) Point to usage figures as proof that tollway was needed.
    Talk about a self fulfilling prophecy!
    The Austin office could learn a thing or two. If they wanted SH130 to be used, then they needed to render I35 useless by starting a large construction project on it in a coordinated effort.

  • The accompanying photo is an outstanding representative of the state of Houston sidewalks.

  • @DNAguy: Seems like a sound strategy to build a reliever route if you already know that you want to rebuild a roadway and inconvenience hundreds of thousands of people in the process. (And I have to say as a former commuter of I-10 during its reconstruction, thank goodness for the Westpark Toll Road.)

    But even still, the demand for the road as a detour is only a bridge toward demand for the road by primary users. There are a lot of residential and commercial projects in the pipeline out there, nearby; this is how highways tend to work is that you build them and then people find them and they get built up and used. And there will be even more users once segments F-1, F-2, and G are all completed and open to traffic. Not giving a particular damn about the Katy prairie enables me to see value in all of the segments west of I-69/US 59.

    SH 130 near Austin is different. The lessons from SH 130 are best applied to Segments B or H of the Grand Parkway. Segment H is decades from being within the imminent path of development, and doesn’t go anywhere very interesting. Segment B is in a more desirable quadrant of the region, but is planned to be so circuitous and in such an otherwise remote area that it negates a lot of its own value even if you can drive faster getting where you’e going.

  • @DNA–The reason SH 130 hasn’t worked is that it actually goes into Seguin not SA, that was a major blunder, in addition, or doesn’t parallel 35 close enough. The entire thing was just horribly executed. It would have worked had it been built correctly. How many people who drive 35 want to avoid Austin and SA?? Not many apparently.
    On the Wheatley matter; why the secrecy. I was under the assumption that open record laws would make the agreement immediately available, how exactly did they get around that and why wait until Thursday to spell it out, why not now?

  • The link to the chronicle on the restored Edison film is broken heads-up.

  • @Niche
    Something tells me that TxDOT doesn’t learn anything from SH130 and builds all sections of the GP using the ‘success’ of Sections E and what probably be viewed as a ‘successful’ G, F1, and F2. When the other sections under perform, they’ll just shrug their shoulders. I understand that it’s ‘nice’ to have reliever routes, but TxDOT needs to spend $ on projects that reduce congestion rather than shaving the commute time it takes the few Katy-ites who work in the woodlands.
    If we can’t b/c the only way to build roads is to sell bonds and make them toll roads (which ‘free’ lanes can’t be turned into per the state constitution), then so be it. No roads should be built at all. We’ve boxed ourselves in a corner in which real transportation issues like 610 btwn 59 & 10 can’t be addressed and we get projects like the Grand parkway that have dubious benefits at best.
    I’d rather go through a period of no road being built and choke on the resulting traffic for a while in order to get coherent transportation planning and funding than to keep perpetuating the terrible & unsustainable system of project letting that we have today.

  • Sidewalk picture is classic Houston. Either inspectors are not doing their jobs or city contractors are out of control. The red paint is indicative of city efforts on accessibility improvements. And how wonderful that the fence in the background is now easily accessible from the street thanks to the city. Tax dollars well spent on an accessible sidewalk to nowhere and a city inspector who supposedly reviewed contractor work and approved it.

  • First of all, a better more correct comparison is Grand Parkway to 1604 not SH 130. SH 130 was suppose to be an alternative to 35, nobody is saying that Grand Parkway is an alternative to 10 or 45, it’s a LOOP! but whatever. As for building the Grand Parkway–build it! It creates developement and will certainly be needed soon as Houston grows at a torrid pace. What do you expect them to do about 59 and 610? They’re as wide as they can possibly be! As for the niches thesis, I feel asleep about 1/4th into it. Death Valley isn’t as dry as his comments.

  • The numbers game for the grand parkway is a very touchy subject because the tolls are needed to pay the bonds issued for the project. Insufficient toll revenue would be big trouble for future expansion and for existing bond liabilities. So, TxDOT will always try to paint a rosy picture by doing silly things like comparing current use with the first week the road was open when no one knew about it.
    As for mediation, the process is always confidential. Any deal reached in mediation will have to be reduced to a formal agreement post mediation. Only then can the parties start talking.

  • So very sad to read people writing that they don’t give a damn about the Katy prairie. The downfall of us all will be that we didn’t care enough for the Katy prairie and places like it.

  • The new stretch of Grand Pkwy is really nice. With the pace of development out there I’m predicting they’ll have to widen it in ten years.

    I hope the region makes a commitment to training and incentivizing LEED-certified building. With the construction crunch, the may as well train more people, and if they’re going to do that, might as well train them to build the really nice stuff, right??

  • Not that a Houston-oriented blog should be discussing central Texas toll roads, but all it takes is one look at the map to see that SH 130 to Seguin is a perfectly fine alternative to I35, as long as you’re not going to the far north side of SA (admittedly the most thriving area). The big problem, the one I’ve heard the most complaints about, is the price – $20+ to travel the length. The state must have mis-estimated the price elasticity of potential travelers.

    A lot has been made about how the new section of the GP traverses undeveloped areas, but actually it’s just barely beyond existing development north of I10 and will actually be connecting extensively developed areas (including areas with growing employment clusters) once it connects to and past SH 249. So it’s hardly outlandish from a transportation perspective, especially with Houston’s suburb-to-suburb commute patterns. Can’t comment on the financial feasibility of the tolling, but in general tolls are good, they directly relate the cost of infrastructure provision to the beneficiaries (aka user fees) and can also be used to manage congestion, as on the I10 Managed Lanes.

  • @ Shannon: If your own comments are suitably wet for your own tastes, then indeed I prefer mine being dry.

    But yeah, you can’t go by what TXDoT says that they’re building things for. They like to make all kinds of peripheral justifications such as that the Grand Parkway will aide in evacuations; and yes, they are using the bypass argument for portions of the Grand Parkway just as they did with SH 130. These claims have some merit, but not much. I think that they’re just making it up as they go along, and sometimes I can’t help but wonder whether their whole intent is simply to make Houston appear more prominent on Google Maps.

  • @HOUCYNIC and @slugline, I’m glad you like the picture I took! I found this sidewalk when I went to The Refinery Bar on W. Dallas and parked near the sidewalk. I actually stopped in my tracks and thought how could Houston be so stupid…..then I remembered its HOUSTON!

  • That sidewalk is at the edge of the Allen Parkway Village complex and could have been put in whenever they built that Houston Housing Authority building. Anyone redeveloping that cruddy parking lot would probably be made to finish out the sidewalk on that side of the street; one can only hope that current code will not prevent the new sidewalk from properly aligning with the existing portion, something I’ve noticed happening quite often when new townhomes are put in.

  • @Walker,
    I hope you emailed that photo to Ms. Parker and each council member. It’s just hard to understand how things like this get approved.