The Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council on Friday voted unanimously to approve amendments to the 2012-2016 Transportation Improvement Program, 2035 Regional Transportation Plan and the 2012-2013 Unified Planning Work Program.
Butch Babineaux of CDM Smith presented an analysis of alternative corridors for commuter and high speed rail access to a Houston intermodal terminal, as part of the Houston Intermodal Rail Access Study. Listen
“The purpose of the study was to look at future passenger rail services, how they could access a downtown Houston terminal which we assumed for this project would be the Post Office site near the Amtrak station,” Babineaux said. “We looked at ways to access this terminal from the west, from Eureka Junction near the 290 corridor to the post office site. We considered about 15 alternatives or options.”
Babineaux said it was a “high level” study, but it is not considered a feasibility study or an environmental assessment, but will provide valuable input to upcoming studies that will be completed by the Gulf Coast Rail District and the Texas Department of Transportation.
Tom Munson of Transystems reviewed several options that were considered in the study.
“For each of those options we looked at either being elevated, above grade, at ground or being down in a trench - if you would - underground,” he said.
James Koch of TxDOT reported on the North Corridor (IH 45) Environmental Impact Study. Listen
“This study we’re looking at extends from Beltway 8 all the way into downtown,” Koch said. “We’ve been having a series of public meetings.”
Koch said the corridor has been divided into three segments for the study.
“Segment One goes from Beltway 8 down to 610, Segment Two goes from 610 to down to I-10, and then the third segment is basically the downtown loop,” he said.
Six alternatives are being considered for Segment One, which would include the addition of four new lanes.
“The options that we looked at were adding the I-45 to Hardy Toll Road connectors, widen the Hardy Toll Road itself or widen Interstate 45,” he said.
Eleven alternatives to add four new lanes are being discussed for Segment Two, including managed lanes, general purpose lanes with existing right of way, and an opportunity for a covered deck section between Patton and south of North Main for a deep bore tunnel alternative.
“I will remind everybody, between Cavalcade and Quitman we made a commitment that we are not going to be purchasing any right-of-way,” he said, which led to a discussion of when that commitment was made.
“There’s going to be some dramatic right-of-way impacts if you do any of these things,” said Harris County Public Infrastructure Director Art Storey. “It’s just incredible to me that one is off the table already.”
Koch noted that the TPC made that decision in 2005.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who chairs the TPC, asked for a review of that decision at a future meeting.
“I always think about Loop 610 and (the city of) Bellaire, about how it went right through Bellaire,” Emmett said. “I don’t think many of those people wanted it to go there; but where would we be without Loop 610 today?”
Emmett also stressed that the North Corridor study is not related to ongoing improvements that are planned for I-45.
The TPC voted unanimously to approve Emmett’s appointment of Orval Rhoads, Melissa Noriega, Larry Stanley, Darrell Morrison and James Patterson for the nominating committee for next year’s officers. Emmett is chair of the TPC.
All other agenda items were approved with unanimous votes. Agenda
Baytown Council Member Terry Sain, Conroe Downtown Development Manager Larry Calhoun and League City Council Member Mick Phalen were absent and not represented by alternate members. Attendance