The Latest Designs for Metro’s Big Harrisburg Blvd. Overpass in the East End

Designs for Overpass on Harrisburg Blvd., East End, Houston

Designs for Overpass on Harrisburg Blvd., East End, Houston

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:


Designs for Overpass on Harrisburg Blvd., East End, Houston

Designs for Overpass on Harrisburg Blvd., East End, Houston

Designs for Overpass on Harrisburg Blvd., East End, Houston

Images posted by Metro include a few labeled as “alternates”:

Designs for Overpass on Harrisburg Blvd., East End, Houston

Designs for Overpass on Harrisburg Blvd., East End, Houston

Designs for Overpass on Harrisburg Blvd., East End, Houston

Because the overpass — which once upon a time was going to be an underpass — won’t be opening anytime soon, the East End Line will begin operations without it, and end at the new Altic/Howard Hughes Station east of Eastwood Park. The abbreviated East End Line, along with the Southeast Line, may open before the end of the year. When the overpass is complete, the East End Line will extend to the Magnolia Park Transit Center.

Designs for Overpass on Harrisburg Blvd., East End, Houston

Renderings: Natex Corp. Architects, Omega Engineers/Metro


At the End of the Green Line

37 Comment

  • I really wish I could be positive about this but these drawing show the lack of creativity or funds to hire same at Metro. No surprise, only mild disappointment They’re reusing the same cliched template for this monster like glorification of racial symbology (like people even care, regardless of “race”)and accent lighting. I doubt the Texas history timeline will make the final cut as that has been considered racist in the recent past. So it’s like a dully dolled-up mini Pierce Elevated, and will likely have the gaggles of homeless hanging out underneath, seeing as thousands are within a few miles of here and conveniently right along the rail.

  • The big panels with type will never be seen…save the money and make it an entire garden wall.

  • Looks great. Build it. Get the thing done already.

  • I hope the “garden walls” are as nice as those on the sides of the trenched-out part of the 59 from Shepherd to Main. Those are manicured gems, they are.

  • Maybe I don’t understand construction, or probably just the Metro, but how can they have an operating budget that varies by $15 million dollars for one specific bridge?

  • Lipstick on a pig….

  • I had to laugh at the people in suits walking at night under that bridge, talk about living in a dream world. I can’t wait to see the people who ride this line! As for the bridge, it will be graffitied in about a nano second and yes, the homeless will camp out there like it’s a refuge camp, Christ what a waste of money. I’m all for light rail, but this line is going have all kinds of crime issues as will the North Line. I hope Metro has increased its security budget, these lines are going to need to be heavily policed. The line that was most needed and that would have been most used is in perpetual delay thanks to a certain Congressman.

  • I like the part where pedestrians still have to cross the tracks at grade while automobiles get a break. There’s nothing I love more than standing there for almost ten minutes for the longest train in the world to pass at the same speed as an octogenarian on a Sunday afternoon stroll.

  • It’s a little odd that half of the renderings they give us are aerial shots. It looks great from the sky at night. Can’t knock it for that. Too bad nobody lives in the sky to enjoy the view. The other half of the renderings exclude all the already-dumpy and mostly-vacant buildings that are going to get stuck in another urban armpit.

    The blue lights under the bridge are probably a good idea. Junkies can’t see their veins to be able to shoot up.

    The stark realities of municipal finance are not lost on me, but I’m really disappointed for the property owners and residents along Harrisburg that this isn’t going to be an underpass. It’s not as though they haven’t already been through enough trouble over this ill-conceived line.

  • That L shaped strip center at 6215 Harrisburg, right next to the rail line, is about 10 years old and has never been fully leased. The Value Village at 6425, right across the tracks, always has a packed house. Both buildings can be seen in that tiny picture at the end of the story above. There is a Family Dollar across Harrisburg from Value Village which also has a steady business (red roof in that small picture above).
    It will be interesting to see what becomes of those businesses nearest the tracks.

  • Looks like someone threw that together. Like anyone will be walking under a bridge over there at night. Where may they be walking to, abandoned buildings? Metro sucks. They lied to the community about the underpass and blamed it on potential contaminated soil. Like the area isn’t full of potentially contaminated soil? Gimme a break.

  • As a resident of the near East End, I’m thoroughly sick of the whole overpass design mess! It’s ugly, Metro can’t (or won’t) do anything to make it better, and the entire Green Line needs to be completed ASAP.

    Forget the tacky decorations; the green walls look okay. And let’s hope Metro maintains the lighting underneath this overpass better than TXDOT does with their overpasses above Telephone Road and Lockwood.

  • I like the bridge. I don’t expect to see businessmen walking underneath it, though. I do have concerns of it being a magnet for homeless as have many of the underpasses.

  • After their Main Street Square design contest SNAFU, can Metro really be trusted to follow-through on renderings that they submit to the public?

  • @Shannon so you’re for light rail, but you think it’s a waste of money to build light rail in low income communities to serve the people who stand to benefit from public transportation the most? And to the people complaining about the abandoned buildings in the area, one of the purposes of the new rail line to promote redevelopment of the blighted areas on Harrisburg/Scott St/North Main.

  • The Main Line was a success because it connected Downtown to The Medical Center and Reliant, thus it spurred the development of Midtown, but this to the homeless infested Eastside, that has seen very slow gentrification, what was really needed was an Uptown/Downtown connection, it would have seen very heavy usage, I have no idea who will ride this line and the north line, I can tell you I’d be very leery about riding either of those lines, especially in the evening. I like the idea of Light Rail Connecting the airports but no way! am I going to ride that line thru the 5th Ward to get to Bush to save a few bucks. These lines are political, everything about this plan is political, never what makes the most sense and will be the most successful, but about what makes certain people happy, and this bridge is awful and Metro lied to those people in telling them it was suppose to be an underpass, they knew that they were going to do this from the start. The whole thing is huge disappointment and a colossal waste of money, should have suck with buses on these routes.

  • Since public transit is by design, a rathole for tax dollars , for $27,000,000 , Metro could just give over 2000 people a $13,000 car and for an extra $5,000,000, give them a free fill up every week for a year. Only a tax funded agency that has no impetus to use funds prudently would come up with this. It is appalling that the entire line was not planned well in advance rather than this “oops fiasco” of oh golly a freight track crosses the path. Can’t abide Culberson but if this doesn’t fuel his campaign against Metro, nothing will. What was wrong with buses going up and down Harrisburg? Now it is one big clusterf#%€ down that street.

  • I see that we’re dressing now for dinner at Popeye’s Chicken, after an evening shopping trip to the Family Dollar.

  • @Pitts
    I think you’re reading something Shannon never wrote.
    I am a total advocate of LR. I, however, think this bridge has a boondoggle written all over it. The community doesn’t want it. Period. Metro promised something completely different and then didn’t deliver.
    Is it really going to sink the line if it doesn’t extend to the Magnolia transit center? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy the land on the other side of the track and move the transit center ?
    Serious question.

  • @DNAguy–you make sense, thus you can be assured that Metro has never thought if it. It’s stunning how colossally stupid they are and I’ve supported Light Rail, it’s impossible to defind this fiasco.

  • @DNAguy: Part of the problem is that the LR track is mostly already in place on both sides of the RR tracks, right down the middle of Harrisburg.

  • I think it looks awesome!

  • I don’t think Shannon has ever been to the East End.. .what homeless people?? She must be confusing Harrisburg with Wheeler/3rd Ward? A couple more bars and restaurants in the East End and you will soon have the next Heights

  • @ Pitts: One could argue that land is more desirable near rail stations, but its much harder to argue that land is especially valuable in between stations with reduced visibility and already-challenged accessibility that’s only going to become worse.

    @ Karma: That tracks are already laid on the other side is not a problem, it’s a sunk cost. We can’t unspend spent money, but we do have the option not to throw good money after bad.

  • Any bets on how long these fancy LED lights will last before they burn out and no one bothers to replace them?

    I give it 3-4 years. If you think I am being harsh go try to find the lights that used to exist on the bridges over the 59 underpass.

  • I think the “Aztec Symbols/Patterns” featured in the design documents are a nice touch …

    For about 2000 years, the Aztecs traded their quetzalcoatl feathers and obsidian for Texan mosquitoes and crude oil. It was a very lucrative arrangement – the Aztecs would use the crude oil to make quetzalcoatl traps, and we used the feathers and obsidian flakes to make mosquito swatters..

    It was quite a trek, since the border of the Aztec empire was some 700 miles away from present-day Houston. It got easier for those early traders once light rail was installed, and that’s what this bridge commemorates.

    Sadly, the Aztec empire collapsed because of internal strife stemming from disagreements about above-grade versus below-grade rail crossings.

  • “with a ribbon of white LED lighting above and blue accent lighting underneath and along the columns” yeah, yeah, yeah…..we have heard that before and seen it on the bridges over 59 (Hazard, Dunlavy, Woodhead, Montrose, etc)…. special lighting that after 2 years is burning out, falling apart… plus numerous promises to bring it back, with nothing ever happening… and greenery? who is going to maintain that?

  • Wow Shannon, your comments about the east end could not be farther from the truth. It borders on racist even.

  • Actually, etherist, historians now believe it was the fatal decision to install fake grass that weakened the Aztec empire. As Aztroturf only needed the occasional leaf-blowing, it sundered the idea, central to the their cosmos and exemplified in human sacrifice, that life is nourished by death.

  • @Niche–granted, we cannot unspend the money but it would be an additional expense to restore Harrisburg. It was two lanes each direction, reduced to one now.

  • Can someone just disband METRO already…?! So they lie to the community about an underpass, botch a International design competition for a signature station, had a director get caught with porn on his office work station and can’t get bus routes figured out after HOW many decades?!

    I WANT my TAX money back!!

  • I really wish they had done the underpass like they had planned, this will be a long bridge since it has the light rail going over it. The people in suits are amusing, but the East End is a diverse place & it isn’t just how you picture it Shannon.

    There are homeless, or sometimes people trying to make a buck by washing your windshield at Harrisburg & Wayside, and Wayside & 45 and 45 & Woodridge, but unlike other areas of the city I haven’t run into people just sleeping on the sidewalks & parking lots. I have lived year for about two and a half years with no trouble. My neighbor has lived here for 25 years, and has never experienced a theft or anything. I did see a guy steal something from the Family Dollar next to the proposed bridge, and the new Wal*Mart is crazy at times but people seem to respect each others homes. This area may be poor, but they have jobs to get to, and if anything that seems like more of a reason to give them a piece of public transit they can use.

    I hope the rail will be more frequent than the current buses. Places like uptown don’t “need” light rail more than here, I agree it would be nice to have a larger system, but I don’t think the need is greater on that side of town. If you take the time to explore the area and meet the people you just might be surprised. Folks are friendly, there is a lot of history here, and if you don’t mind the sound of a train horn or the Mariachi Band playing at a house down the street its a nice place to sit on the porch & enjoy the neighborhood. Visit Mason Park, you will see many people using this great public space (even if it isn’t an air-conditioned Astro-park….had to weave that in somewhere), or of course Gus Wortham golf course, both of which will be near the last station that this bridge will connect.


  • I live in the East End. The majority of the residents didn’t want an overpass. This bridge will be a copy cat of the Navigation bridge. BTW, I see more homeless people on Midtown/Downtown (Bus station) area than in the East End.

  • Agree with Spence that anyone who is afraid to walk the streets at night on the East End or has visions of crime definitely doesn’t live here and probably hasn’t spent much, if any, time here. I’ve been here over a dozen years and have had zero theft or problems. The people are decent, respectful working-class. This place has been a sleeper area for many years and now is getting attention and money, which will ironically probably bring crime. And I mentioned lots of homeless within miles but I was referring to the known shelters near Downtown like Loaves and Fishes, the Star of Hope and the Women’s Shelter and there is one on Harrisburg in the old school building from 1910, don’t remember the name. But as far as people wandering the streets or sleeping…nope. But build the overpass and they might come.
    And I ride the Metro buses fairly regularly and they’re all mostly low income people but as was mentioned the impetus for Metro for completing the Green Line was 1) No Fed funds were needed and 2) Forethought and foresite and the area was/is a no-brainer for massive gentrification and, even if the line itself doesn’t spur a lot of development, it will be used decades from now by those who move over here in those same decades and the blocks of sleepy barrioesque nabes have been transformed into something else completely.

  • Uh, you mentioned race Toasty, not me. Homeless and poor are of all colors. I think you need to put your eponymous race card, back in your deck, we’re all tired of it being played from the bottom of the deck.

  • Ok. Classist then. But, more importantly, just plain wrong. East End is not “infested with homeless”, and while I can’t speak for too far back, the gentrification happening there is happening incredibly fast. Far faster than on Northside.
    Harrisburg itself is actually a problematic area, north of that is where things get a bit dicey, but south of Harrisburg is fine. Some areas are actually quite beautiful, and of the 3 remaining inner loop regions (3rd, 5th, and East End), it’s the only one where most of the houses are in good shape.