Metro has posted the latest designs for the enormous Hughes St. overpass along Harrisburg Blvd. on the far-east segment of the East End rail line. The $27-to-$42-million bridge is meant to carry cars and Green Line passengers over the Union Pacific East Belt freight rail line that runs north-south just west of Hughes St., between the soon-to-open East End line’s between the future Altic and Cesar Chavez stations. The posted design concepts, Metro notes, combine a “garden” wall and a wall noting a few 4-digit numbers important in the history of the neighborhood with a ribbon of white LED lighting above and blue accent lighting underneath and along the columns:
No, no one’s expecting Metro’s 2 new light-rail lines to open any sooner than late December (as Swamplot reported last week), but some progress toward that goal is now visible on portions of the East End and Southeast lines: “Live wire” or powered testing of the downtown tracks began this week. The photo at right, sent in by a reader, shows a Metro train moving unescorted along the tracks on Capitol St. for the first time.
There’s still “some uncertainty” over the exact schedule, but all the pieces needed to allow Metro to open Houston’s second and third light-rail lines won’t be in place until late December, according to reports delivered to a committee of the transportation organization’s board of directors last Friday. Previously, an opening date sometime this fall had been projected for the Southeast and East End lines (though the far eastern end of the East End line won’t come on line until a newly planned overpass is built under over the Union Pacific East Belt freight rail line between the future Altic and Cesar Chavez stations). Delays in the delivery of trains aren’t the sole reason for the late openings, however.
A reader who’s been watching construction of the new bridge that’s gone up over Buffalo Bayou and fitted neatly under I-45 at the far western end of the new under-construction Southeast and East End light-rail lines wonders what its purpose is. The bridge is beyond the planned Theater District stations, the last shared rail stops for the 2 lines. Is it a bridge to nowhere, or the starting point for some later western expansion along Washington Ave?
As noted in this morning’s Headlines post, yesterday Metro toted around some trains for “clearance testing” on the eastern stretches of the East End and Southeast rail lines scheduled to open later this year, in advance of electricity being brought down the lines. But downtown, repair continues on a 200-ft. stretch of track shared by the 2 lines on Capitol St. between LaBranch and Crawford — where the rails “probably shifted during concrete placement” and therefore didn’t set properly, a spokesperson for the transit agency tells Swamplot. The concrete has been torn up so the stretch can be rebuilt, level. The rework is being paid for at no cost to Metro by the contractor, Houston Rapid Transit, and will not cause any delay in opening the lines, the spokesperson says.
Got big plans for Saturday night? These 6 Victorian-era Second Ward rowhouses will be parading down 8 blocks of Garrow St. past Settegast Park east of Downtown to new spots further east, in time to escape the construction of some impending townhomes on their longtime lots. The move was originally scheduled for early last week, but was postponed because of a damaged utility pole discovered along the route. (It was also kinda cold.)
That no-tracks land along Harrisburg Blvd. between 66th and Cowling on the East End Line is supposed to look something like the underpass that these new renderings depict. Right now, though, Harrisburg isn’t passing under anything — but lying in wait instead between the nearly completed eastern and western sections of the line that stop here dead in their tracks. Though Mayor Parker announced more than 2 years ago that the East End Line would get $20.6 million in diverted funds to build the Hughes Underpass below the Union Pacific East Belt freight rail line, construction hasn’t started. Why? Well, it appears that Metro hasn’t selected a company yet.
We hardly knew ye: The Sonic Drive-In at 7001 Harrisburg and 70th has quietly closed and covered its windows with solemn gray-painted plywood. The place had been situated among other chains and franchises and bus terminals near the recently installed big yellow bumper at the end of the forthcoming East End Line, catty-corner from the Magnolia Transit Center and a few blocks north of the Gus Wortham Golf Course (and perhaps the potential future Botanic Garden).
It was inevitable that construction of the new East End Line would change the face of Thunderbolt Motors & Transmissions. No more head-in parking out front means customers may have a hard time replicating the closing image of the business’s (locally) famous teevee commercial, 2 versions of which feature a blonde urban-cowgirl type in a Caddy convertible waving her hat in the air as she pulls her (presumably backed-in) convertible onto Harrisburg from one of those spaces.
The 1977 original is shown above. In the commercial’s more recent remake, the head-in parking at 6847 Harrisburg is easier to make out:
Courtesy of a reader wielding a camera along Harrisburg Blvd., here’s a tour of a few standout elements you can expect to encounter in a stroll along the path of Houston’s new East End light-rail line, now that sidewalk coordination work between CenterPoint Energy, Metro, and the Greater East End Management District has been completed.
“Most of the poles,” the reader reports, “are now in the center of the sidewalk leaving 24 inches to squeeze by on either side.” Or maybe a bit more:
How far along is construction on the 3 rail lines Metro is building? A little more than a year ago, HAIF user ricco67 took a video camera along on drives following the paths of each soon-to-be rail route, and posted the results. With the completion of a video taken alongside the East End Line construction from Downtown to the Magnolia Transit Center posted yesterday (above), you can now spot-check progress in updated tours of each of them.
Ricco67’s update showing construction on the Southeast Line dates from last month:
In honor of “nearly” reaching what it describes as the halfway point in constructing the new East End light-rail line, Metro is releasing this rendering showing what it’ll look like when riders reach the track’s end. It’s a view of the station at the Magnolia Park Transit Center on Harrisburg at 70th St., the line’s easternmost reach. For the most part, the basic structure of each station will be identical steel constructions with glass canopies — much as they are on the existing Main St. line.
16 of the 25 official station names announced today for Metro’s new East End and Southeast light-rail lines and North Line extension include slashes. No, you won’t need to choose between Cesar Chavez and 67th Street: The Cesar Chavez/67th St. station will honor both. Same for MacGregor Park/MLK. The term “EaDo” has made it on to a station name — but only as part of the EaDo/Stadium team — not to be called “EaDo Stadium” of course, since Spanish bank BBVA Compass just paid a lot of money for the exclusive naming rights to the new soccer venue.
A few other station names you’ll want to be careful with:
From those rockin’ dudes at Metro, moving to their own beat: a timelapse view of last weekend’s marathon Friday night to Monday morning East End Line construction project at the intersection of Harrisburg and Lockwood. (Traffic lanes and utilities had already been installed.) The beat goes on. . . .