Headlines: Remembering George Mitchell; Relighting the 59 Bridges

Photo of Galveston: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

15 Comment

  • Bill Calderon’s write-up about the TXDoT funding for re-lighting the bridges is a bit melodramatic. When they were installed, I was neither struck with awe or compelled to describe the bridges as glorious. I took no pride from the light strips. I was not so dumbfounded as to make a grammatical error in the fourth paragraph of anything I was writing at the time. When the new LED ropes are installed, I will not marvel at the smallest bridge that I’ve ever seen that has LED ropes — and I live in a third-world country in a city that has several dozen LED ropes (and hundreds in one case) on four different bridges crossing a river. One of my city’s bridges has a flamethrower attached to it and they fire it off on weekends. No shit.

    If TXDoT wants to be in the civic art business, they need to stop claiming multi-billion-dollar shortfalls that require legislative sessions to fix. This should be a municipal or management district expenditure. Likewise, if they’re going to do this kind of stuff then they need to up their game. I’d suggest a minimalist perspective.

  • To celebrate TXDOT lighting the 59 …soon to be I69… bridges is like giving a trophy for 7th place.
    This only adds to what’s an even sadder story of replacing paved roads w/ gravel ones in 2013:
    We have a lot of transportation needs and millions of ppl moving into the state / Houston area. Our state leg. looks like its going to have to be called back for another special session for transpo funding that won’t cover the stated need (proposal is only for about 1/4 of the stated 4 billion needed to keep the current level of congestion).
    A sad state of affairs indeed.

  • RE: 59/69 bridge relighting
    I can only assume this is a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease, because otherwise TXDoT should be focusing money on repairing and improving roads. Sorry I feel jaded, but those lights barely worked when they were new…isn’t that something the contractor should have been held accountable for back then?

  • Agreed…I never liked those lights and didn’t miss them when they burned out or failed from lack of maintenance. …way overhyped.
    However…I don’t mind them working like they were supposed to – just make them durable for more than a few year, OK?

  • The bridges should be funded and maintained by Houston.

  • Those are lights drooping along the sides of the bridges? I thought they were power cables.
    And good luck getting the city to fix the high mast (moon tower) lighting anywhere. There are several around the 59/288 interchange that have been defunct for years.
    The transition from 59 inbound to 288S is completely unlit. The transition from 288N to 59 outbound (toward Sugarland) is almost completely unlit. I’ve tried numerous times to get the 3-1-1 folks to fix those. No dice
    Any readers have any “bright ideas?”. Sorry for the rant.

  • Why would the state pay for the lights on that bridge? They should have given it to the City, and the city should have given it to the TIRZ district to maintain.

  • LED’s use 1/3 of the electricity used by conventional lighting. Unfortunately they only work 1/3rd of the time and are not near as bright. NEXT

  • As for the woman facing eminent domain possession of her home, I did a little research and I find the whole story sad. For the sake of the bayou hike/bike trail (which I use often and really enjoy) must this homeowner give up every bit of her property? The Houston Parks Board has bought up almost every other lot on this section of the bayou so perhaps they feel they should own all of it.

  • I don’t mind eminent domain purchases in cases where’s there’s a practical greater good, but not if it’s for building a recreational area. In fact it maybe a great opportunity because generally you can squeeze above market price from the government if you become a major pain in the butt.

  • @commonsense and @ Karen
    The eminent domain issue is with the flood control district which is tasked to minimize flooding and property damage for ALL of Harris county. Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Even in the good ole boot straps, rugged individualism, US of A.
    They are the ones saying that the property needs to be removed, not the park board. the bike lanes are just a bonus. The land would lay fallow otherwise. Don’t blame the park board / bike lanes on why this woman is losing her house.
    In addition, this is just one side of the story. I call total BS on the fact that the HCFCD is only willing to pay her 1/3 of her property’s value. The house is appraised at $130K or so. I doubt that the HCFCD is only offering $40-45k for the property. I understand that she’s put more $ into the house and I, like her, would fight like heck to get as much $ as I could. However, houses are not worth the sum of their parts. I myself wouldn’t necessarily spend a whole lot upgrading a house in that area that has houses going for only ~100K in this market. But, hey, to each their own. This is just her and abc13’s attempt at hyping a story / situation so she gets more $ and abc13 gets Tea Party grannies who still watch local news to tune in and get all riled up.
    BTW, here is her county tax appraisal:

  • My god – when you read the lights article, you think the author was having a wet dream while writing it.

    I for one don’t regard these bridges as “…the best in architectural beauty that TxDOT has delivered to any project in recent time,” nor was I “in awe of their iconic presence” when the lights did work.

    I also don’t see the how the 59 corridor is “glorious” – I will no doubt have a chuckle while I’m sitting there in glorious traffic later on this glorious afternoon.

    Let’s get real-world here…what is the maintenance and funding plan for mainting these lights long-term, and who will bear the costs? That’s how we should sustain infrastructure and beautification projects.

  • I looked at the appraisal also, and I agree we don’t really know what the HCFCD is offering her (although they may be offering her the land value only, which HCAD has at about $45K). According to HCFCD’s website and the Texas Landowner’s Bill of Rights she’s entitled to moving costs, and a mortgage rate compensation and some allowances for buying a new house. I guess she’s also entitled to be mad. That wasn’t really my problem with the story. I haven’t looked at the flood plain projections in a while and while I know some properties in that part of the bayou flood often, I guess hers has not. So is it that the HCFCD is going to widen the bayou in this area and need her land to do that? From the Brays project website all I can see is that they plan to repair/replace bridges in that area.

  • I don’t give much credence to an HCAD mass appraisal. They utilize a cost approach to fee simple market value that is absolutely inappropriate for a realistic assessment of market value; if a state-licensed general appraiser attempted to use such an approach without weighing sale comparables on a property that was 75 years old, they’d stand a decent chance at losing their license if the deal went bad and got litigious. Besides which, they are required by law to value properties equitably, with comparative inputs to their valuation model for older houses almost always driven by the visible exterior condition of the property rather than what is going on inside that they do not know about. It is ENTIRELY plausible that the house is worth more than the assessed value.

  • Meanwhile a child is starving, our educational system languishes, a veteran is homeless, and our streets crumble.. Great usage of money brain trust(s)…