In between showing off variousÂ multicolored interchangeÂ tangles, the new flyover preview video of theÂ huge changes proposed for I-45 North and the downtown freeway circuit glides viewers by a handful ofÂ areas where freeways will dive underground — while splicing in some new renderings of the tops of thoseÂ tunnels-to-be asÂ theyÂ could look, if somebody wanted to pay up to turn them intoÂ a park. (The animation is careful to emphasizeÂ once againÂ thatÂ said parks would have to be developed and funded by a source other than TxDOT — and so far, there are no signs that anyone hasÂ stepped up.)
The rendering up top shows the would-be-parallel sections of 45, 59, and SH 288,Â running behind the convention district where 59 sits now — the whole bundle would be pulled down below floodÂ grade and covered up, evidently with concrete if the park thing doesn’t work out. (A clip of just that section of the 10-minute animation is included above; a tiny rendered version of the Cheek Neal Coffee building can be spied along the edge of the freeway, though SEARCH Homeless Service’snew building one block north isn’t specifically drawn in next to it.)
The video also givesÂ theÂ section of 59 from Main to San JacintoÂ streetsÂ the same burial and dressup treatment:
Having troubleÂ sifting through some of the massive freeway jumblesÂ in theÂ latest plans for that major I-45 rerouteÂ between Downtown and the Beltway? This new videoÂ (making the rounds this month asÂ TxDOTÂ hosts a set of public meetings to chat about the project) may or may not help you out. The 10-minute animation shows offÂ what the project plans look like in multicolored, car-spangled 3D action, dragging viewers slowlyÂ along the entire project route from Spur 521 up to Beltway 8.
The project plans pullÂ 45 over to the east side of Downtown, toÂ line up alongsideÂ US 59 and dive underground behind the George R. Brown convention center. Various flavors of new express lanes, managed lanes, managed express lanes, and connectorsÂ weave into and out of a massive newÂ 45-59-10 junctionÂ as shown above, all labeled by color. Here’s a clip of the above video showing just that section of the animation:
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT IT TAKES TO LIVE NEXT TO THE FAST LANES “The housing stock of the city has MANY luxury apartments located too close to comfort to a freeway. On I-10, the Sawyer Loftsâ€™ north side [sits] right up on the freeway with some units being feet away from an exit ramp. Go further west and I-10 is lined with luxury apartments that look out at the freeway from a very uncomfortably close distance (basically two lanes away, plus a small setback). This is becoming a permanent fixture of the city. Iâ€™m not sure why anyone would voluntarily rent one of these, but the developers are banking on housing being in so short supply that someone will basically lose out when the music stops playing and thereâ€™s not a chair to sit in and they will be forced to rent one of these. I think that must be the game plan. Maybe they think if itâ€™s common enough people will just subconsciously modify their lifestyle expectations in a big city to thinking its okay to live between 7 and 50 feet from one of the widest freeways in the world.” [Commenter7, commenting on The Downtown Apartments Caught Between a Freeway and a Curved Place] Illustration: Lulu
Say, how’d those midrise apartments nestling delicately into the northernmost armpit of the 45-59 exchange turn out, anyway? An accessory to a Midtown drive-by past the scene sends aÂ fresh shot of the finished product and its The Hamilton nametag, taken from the ramp that sends northbound 45-ers onto the potentially doomedPierce Elevated. Construction started in 2014 and just wrapped in the fall as leasing started up.
Only the top 2 and a half of the complex’sÂ 5 residential stories (never mind the parking podium levels below that) can peek over the railing of the freeway on the southern side of the structure, providing scenic views both to andÂ of any loiterers on the building’s uppermost southern balconies. Spencer Moore of FancyHoustonApartments.com even took the time to share the experience of staring down drivers on the closest ramp:
Just because the crossings over US-59 were broadcasting football team colors in time for the Super Bowl last month doesn’t mean they were totally finished, Sarah Gandy from GandyÂ² Lighting Design tells Swamplot this morning. A number of readers have written in since the game to note bits and pieces of the new lighting going dark (as seen in the top shot), blinking, or appearing to be stuck on mismatched colors on occasion;Â Gandy says that per pre-game plans, there is still some hardware being installed and tuning being done, and that the contractors on the project aren’t scheduled to be totally wrapped up for aÂ few more months.
The forecast for tonight’s display — minus at least 1 bridge which’ll be getting worked on for the evening — is St. Patrick’s Day green; the bridges also spent some of the leadup to Mardi Gras last month enthusiastically flashing passing drivers with traditional bead colors:
Some of theÂ intermediate developmental stages of theÂ pointy new hillÂ between the Pierce Elevated andÂ the old Mr. Peeples spotÂ raised a few questions in the mind of a nearby reader (chief among them: whether the Midtown Redevelopment Authority was constructingÂ an ark.)Â A few photos from last weekÂ (including the top shot above) showed what appear to be wooden formsÂ heralding the pouring of aÂ concrete landscaping wall. A set of new shots from this morning paint a more complete picture of the site, showing a cargo of several new treesÂ now settled in place in the gentle concave curve behindÂ the structured hill’s prow (as seen in the second shot above). Beyond the wall, the other side of the mound appears to have been dotted with ornamental grass:
The newly LED-equipped crossings over US-59 between Shepherd Dr. and Midtown should be getting officially flipped on around 8 pm tomorrow, after a few weeks of on-and-off testing. The 2 Gandys ofÂ GandyÂ² Lighting Design tell Swamplot that the lights will likely run from sunset to sunrise; the tentative plan in the leadup to the Super BowlÂ is for the bridges toÂ show offÂ the competitors’ teamcolors.Â The Patriots’ red-white-and-blue are demoed above,Â but here are some shots of what else the newÂ fixtures can do, now that all the tuning up is largely finished:
Vintage roadside attraction photographer Molly Block sends in the fresh shot above of the empty triple post that previously held up the neon beacon of Gulfgate all-night diner Dot Coffee ShopÂ (along with a previous portrait of the sign itself, circa 2013). Block snapped theÂ picture of the bare poles over the weekend; an employee tells Swamplot this morning that both the Dot sign and the sign for also-Pappas-owned Pappas Bar-B-Q next door had to be temporarily takenÂ down out of the way of that planned reworking of the I-45-Loop-610 intersection. The projectÂ willÂ add another pair of direct connectors between the 2 highways, and retool the southbound I-45Â frontage road, which runs along theÂ edge of theÂ restaurants’ parking lots (as shown in the TxDOTÂ schematics below):