Metro set to spend millions to make sure I-45 widening doesnt doom transit

Author : LavadaCrooks
Publish Date : 2021-04-22 05:24:32
Metro set to spend millions to make sure I-45 widening doesnt doom transit

Aaron Luna, 26, hopped off the Route 5 bus Tuesday morning, both hands typing away on his smartphone.

His gaze never left the screen as he stepped along the sidewalk at Main and turned at the Wheeler Transit Center. Luna, who lives in Riverside Terrace, slowed as he approached the train tracks, but never stopped typing. After 13 years using the Metropolitan Transit Authority transit center on and off, he said he does not need a lot of prompting to know his surroundings.

“I do it every day,” Luna said, adding his routine is so rote he hardly pays attention on the bus because he can almost sense his stop approaching.

In a matter of months, he will have to watch his step, as a flurry of changes could radically redesign Wheeler to make way for a new freeway and new transit offerings.

Metro’s board is scheduled Thursday to approve hiring design and engineering firm STV Incorporated for services related to the controversial Interstate 45 project. Though the bulk of the project will widen I-45, it includes a near-total redesign of the downtown freeway system, starting with work along Interstate 69 at Spur 527, putting Wheeler — where Texas Department of Transportation officials plan to bury the freeway below local streets — in the first phases.

RAIL ON THE FLY: Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could put train to Hobby Airport on the front burner

The contract with STV, valued at up to $9.6 million for the next five years, would allow Metro to consult the company as it plans for transit operations during construction and how what is built will affect its own upcoming projects.

The goal, officials said, is to limit disruptions to bus and rail service and preserve the space Metro will need for future transit lanes and stations, so adding them later does not become a costly and complicated challenge.

Wheeler Transit Center is the epicenter of those concerns.

“It is absolutely imperative we understand the impacts of the (I-45 rebuild) on the Wheeler site,” said Clint Harbert, vice-president of system and capital planning for Metro. “That includes all of the stakeholder activity around us and the loss of property at the Wheeler site, as well as how is BRT going to go through.”

The transit center, which at times has had safety concerns because of its isolated location practically beneath the freeway between Fannin and Main, is rapidly getting new neighbors and more visibility. The former Sears property in Midtown is the centerpiece of a planned “innovation hub” and redevelopment is occurring on many nearby blocks.

The I-45 project is likely to be the most significant impact on the transit center. The project remains in limbo because of opposition from Houston and Harris County officials and re-evaluation at the federal level of the plans to rebuild the freeway from downtown north to Beltway 8. The redesign includes moving I-45 from the west side of the central business to the east, parallel to I-69. As a result, the project will radically redesign every downtown freeway interchange.

BENEFITS IN LIMBO: Supporters of I-45 widening say pause puts promises of relief on hold, too

Though TxDOT has halted development of many segments, the portion along I-69 from Spur 527 to Texas 288 — which includes Wheeler — remains on pace for construction to start next year. Widening I-45 and redoing the downtown system is spread across many distinct but connected projects, and TxDOT had approvals and design ready for the first segments, but has halted development of the others until a lawsuit filed by Harris County and the federal review are settled.

That work could affect Wheeler and the Red Line early on, as burying the freeway through Midtown and rebuilding city streets could mean months of detours and delays for transit in the area.

The Wheeler work and potential to have the Red Line, the most-used transit line in Texas, cut in half by construction is not the only impact Metro is weighing with the I-45 work. In 2017, Metro estimated reconstruction of I-45 could cost transit officials an additional $24 million annually simply in employee time and fuel related to detours.

ROOM TO MOVE: Managed, maybe elevated lanes considered for I-10 as TxDOT tries out options for clogged corridor

Wheeler already is a major stop in the Metro system, but its importance is set to increase, based on the agency’s long-range transit plan. Riders will use Wheeler to transfer to and from the Red Line light rail, the spine of the train network, and the longest planned bus rapid transit line serving northeast Houston, Midtown and Westchase.

The 25-mile BRT line, referred to as the University Corridor, is proposed to run from Tidwell near Interstate 69 through east Houston to the University of Houston and Texas Southern University campuses. From there, the line travels west to Midtown, where it connects to the Wheeler Red Line stop, then on to Greenway Plaza, south of Uptown and on to Westchase near Westpark and Beltway 8.

Metro officials are in the early stages of planning the line, part of the package of new projects approved by voters in November 2019.

Still, Metro officials said given discussions in Washington, D.C. about infrastructure investment and the need for options other than highway and automobile travel, having the University Corridor ready could help tap federal dollars.

“We are looking at every possible way we can to expedite it,” Metro Deputy CEO Tom Jasien told transit board members.

That might allow Metro to tap money for planning and development available from federal sources. Wednesday, the Federal Transit Administration announced a $10 million pilot program to help agencies plan for transit projects that combat climate change by reducing vehicle emissions, especially in under-served communities.

“When people can move safely an

Aaron Luna, 26, hopped off the Route 5 bus Tuesday morning, both hands typing away on his smartphone.

His gaze never left the screen as he stepped along the sidewalk at Main and turned at the Wheeler Transit Center. Luna, who lives in Riverside Terrace, slowed as he approached the train tracks, but never stopped typing. After 13 years using the Metropolitan Transit Authority transit center on and off, he said he does not need a lot of prompting to know his surroundings.

“I do it every day,” Luna said, adding his routine is so rote he hardly pays attention on the bus because he can almost sense his stop approaching.

In a matter of months, he will have to watch his step, as a flurry of changes could radically redesign Wheeler to make way for a new freeway and new transit offerings.

Metro’s board is scheduled Thursday to approve hiring design and engineering firm STV Incorporated for services related to the controversial Interstate 45 project. Though the bulk of the project will widen I-45, it includes a near-total redesign of the downtown freeway system, starting with work along Interstate 69 at Spur 527, putting Wheeler — where Texas Department of Transportation officials plan to bury the freeway below local streets — in the first phases.

RAIL ON THE FLY: Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could put train to Hobby Airport on the front burner

The contract with STV, valued at up to $9.6 million for the next five years, would allow Metro to consult the company as it plans for transit operations during construction and how what is built will affect its own upcoming projects.

The goal, officials said, is to limit disruptions to bus and rail service and preserve the space Metro will need for future transit lanes and stations, so adding them later does not become a costly and complicated challenge.

Wheeler Transit Center is the epicenter of those concerns.

“It is absolutely imperative we understand the impacts of the (I-45 rebuild) on the Wheeler site,” said Clint Harbert, vice-president of system and capital planning for Metro. “That includes all of the stakeholder activity around us and the loss of property at the Wheeler site, as well as how is BRT going to go through.”

The transit center, which at times has had safety concerns because of its isolated location practically beneath the freeway between Fannin and Main, is rapidly getting new neighbors and more visibility. The former Sears property in Midtown is the centerpiece of a planned “innovation hub” and redevelopment is occurring on many nearby blocks.

The I-45 project is likely to be the most significant impact on the transit center. The project remains in limbo because of opposition from Houston and Harris County officials and re-evaluation at the federal level of the plans to rebuild the freeway from downtown north to Beltway 8. The redesign includes moving I-45 from the west side of the central business to the east, parallel to I-69. As a result, the project will radically redesign every downtown freeway interchange.

BENEFITS IN LIMBO: Supporters of I-45 widening say pause puts promises of relief on hold, too

Though TxDOT has halted development of many segments, the portion along I-69 from Spur 527 to Texas 288 — which includes Wheeler — remains on pace for construction to start next year. Widening I-45 and redoing the downtown system is spread across many distinct but connected projects, and TxDOT had approvals and design ready for the first segments, but has halted development of the others until a lawsuit filed by Harris County and the federal review are settled.

That work could affect Wheeler and the Red Line early on, as burying the freeway through Midtown and rebuilding city streets could mean months of detours and delays for transit in the area.

The Wheeler work and potential to have the Red Line, the most-used transit line in Texas, cut in half by construction is not the only impact Metro is weighing with the I-45 work. In 2017, Metro estimated reconstruction of I-45 could cost transit officials an additional $24 million annually simply in employee time and fuel related to detours.

ROOM TO MOVE: Managed, maybe elevated lanes considered for I-10 as TxDOT tries out options for clogged corridor

Wheeler already is a major stop in the Metro system, but its importance is set to increase, based on the agency’s long-range transit plan. Riders will use Wheeler to transfer to and from the Red Line light rail, the spine of the train network, and the longest planned bus rapid transit line serving northeast Houston, Midtown and Westchase.

The 25-mile BRT line, referred to as the University Corridor, is proposed to run from Tidwell near Interstate 69 through east Houston to the University of Houston and Texas Southern University campuses. From there, the line travels west to Midtown, where it connects to the Wheeler Red Line stop, then on to Greenway Plaza, south of Uptown and on to Westchase near Westpark and Beltway 8.

Metro officials are in the early stages of planning the line, part of the package of new projects approved by voters in November 2019.

Still, Metro officials said given discussions in Washington, D.C. about infrastructure investment and the need for options other than highway and automobile travel, having the University Corridor ready could help tap federal dollars.

“We are looking at every possible way we can to expedite it,” Metro Deputy CEO Tom Jasien told transit board members.

That might allow Metro to tap money for planning and development available from federal sources. Wednesday, the Federal Transit Administration announced a $10 million pilot program to help agencies plan for transit projects that combat climate change by reducing vehicle emissions, especially in under-served communities.

“When people can move safely and easily by p

Aaron Luna, 26, hopped off the Route 5 bus Tuesday morning, both hands typing away on his smartphone.

His gaze never left the screen as he stepped along the sidewalk at Main and turned at the Wheeler Transit Center. Luna, who lives in Riverside Terrace, slowed as he approached the train tracks, but never stopped typing. After 13 years using the Metropolitan Transit Authority transit center on and off, he said he does not need a lot of prompting to know his surroundings.

“I do it every day,” Luna said, adding his routine is so rote he hardly pays attention on the bus because he can almost sense his stop approaching.

In a matter of months, he will have to watch his step, as a flurry of changes could radically redesign Wheeler to make way for a new freeway and new transit offerings.

Metro’s board is scheduled Thursday to approve hiring design and engineering firm STV Incorporated for services related to the controversial Interstate 45 project. Though the bulk of the project will widen I-45, it includes a near-total redesign of the downtown freeway system, starting with work along Interstate 69 at Spur 527, putting Wheeler — where Texas Department of Transportation officials plan to bury the freeway below local streets — in the first phases.

RAIL ON THE FLY: Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could put train to Hobby Airport on the front burner

The contract with STV, valued at up to $9.6 million for the next five years, would allow Metro to consult the company as it plans for transit operations during construction and how what is built will affect its own upcoming projects.

The goal, officials said, is to limit disruptions to bus and rail service and preserve the space Metro will need for future transit lanes and stations, so adding them later does not become a costly and complicated challenge.

Wheeler Transit Center is the epicenter of those concerns.

“It is absolutely imperative we understand the impacts of the (I-45 rebuild) on the Wheeler site,” said Clint Harbert, vice-president of system and capital planning for Metro. “That includes all of the stakeholder activity around us and the loss of property at the Wheeler site, as well as how is BRT going to go through.”

The transit center, which at times has had safety concerns because of its isolated location practically beneath the freeway between Fannin and Main, is rapidly getting new neighbors and more visibility. The former Sears property in Midtown is the centerpiece of a planned “innovation hub” and redevelopment is occurring on many nearby blocks.

The I-45 project is likely to be the most significant impact on the transit center. The project remains in limbo because of opposition from Houston and Harris County officials and re-evaluation at the federal level of the plans to rebuild the freeway from downtown north to Beltway 8. The redesign includes moving I-45 from the west side of the central business to the east, parallel to I-69. As a result, the project will radically redesign every downtown freeway interchange.

BENEFITS IN LIMBO: Supporters of I-45 widening say pause puts promises of relief on hold, too

Though TxDOT has halted development of many segments, the portion along I-69 from Spur 527 to Texas 288 — which includes Wheeler — remains on pace for construction to start next year. Widening I-45 and redoing the downtown system is spread across many distinct but connected projects, and TxDOT had approvals and design ready for the first segments, but has halted development of the others until a lawsuit filed by Harris County and the federal review are settled.

That work could affect Wheeler and the Red Line early on, as burying the freeway through Midtown and rebuilding city streets could mean months of detours and delays for transit in the area.

The Wheeler work and potential to have the Red Line, the most-used transit line in Texas, cut in half by construction is not the only impact Metro is weighing with the I-45 work. In 2017, Metro estimated reconstruction of I-45 could cost transit officials an additional $24 million annually simply in employee time and fuel related to detours.

ROOM TO MOVE: Managed, maybe elevated lanes considered for I-10 as TxDOT tries out options for clogged corridor

Wheeler already is a major stop in the Metro system, but its importance is set to increase, based on the agency’s long-range transit plan. Riders will use Wheeler to transfer to and from the Red Line light rail, the spine of the train network, and the longest planned bus rapid transit line serving northeast Houston, Midtown and Westchase.

The 25-mile BRT line, referred to as the University Corridor, is proposed to run from Tidwell near Interstate 69 through east Houston to the University of Houston and Texas Southern University campuses. From there, the line travels west to Midtown, where it connects to the Wheeler Red Line stop, then on to Greenway Plaza, south of Uptown and on to Westchase near Westpark and Beltway 8.

Metro officials are in the early stages of planning the line, part of the package of new projects approved by voters in November 2019.

Still, Metro officials said given discussions in Washington, D.C. about infrastructure investment and the need for options other than highway and automobile travel, having the University Corridor ready could help tap federal dollars.

“We are looking at every possible way we can to expedite it,” Metro Deputy CEO Tom Jasien told transit board members.

That might allow M

Aaron Luna, 26, hopped off the Route 5 bus Tuesday morning, both hands typing away on his smartphone.

His gaze never left the screen as he stepped along the sidewalk at Main and turned at the Wheeler Transit Center. Luna, who lives in Riverside Terrace, slowed as he approached the train tracks, but never stopped typing. After 13 years using the Metropolitan Transit Authority transit center on and off, he said he does not need a lot of prompting to know his surroundings.

“I do it every day,” Luna said, adding his routine is so rote he hardly pays attention on the bus because he can almost sense his stop approaching.

In a matter of months, he will have to watch his step, as a flurry of changes could radically redesign Wheeler to make way for a new freeway and new transit offerings.

Metro’s board is scheduled Thursday to approve hiring design and engineering firm STV Incorporated for services related to the controversial Interstate 45 project. Though the bulk of the project will widen I-45, it includes a near-total redesign of the downtown freeway system, starting with work along Interstate 69 at Spur 527, putting Wheeler — where Texas Department of Transportation officials plan to bury the freeway below local streets — in the first phases.

RAIL ON THE FLY: Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could put train to Hobby Airport on the front burner

The contract with STV, valued at up to $9.6 million for the next five years, would allow Metro to consult the company as it plans for transit operations during construction and how what is built will affect its own upcoming projects.

The goal, officials said, is to limit disruptions to bus and rail service and preserve the space Metro will need for future transit lanes and stations, so adding them later does not become a costly and complicated challenge.

Wheeler Transit Center is the epicenter of those concerns.

“It is absolutely imperative we understand the impacts of the (I-45 rebuild) on the Wheeler site,” said Clint Harbert, vice-president of system and capital planning for Metro. “That includes all of the stakeholder activity around us and the loss of property at the Wheeler site, as well as how is BRT going to go through.”

The transit center, which at times has had safety concerns because of its isolated location practically beneath the freeway between Fannin and Main, is rapidly getting new neighbors and more visibility. The former Sears property in Midtown is the centerpiece of a planned “innovation hub” and redevelopment is occurring on many nearby blocks.

The I-45 project is likely to be the most significant impact on the transit center. The project remains in limbo because of opposition from Houston and Harris County officials and re-evaluation at the federal level of the plans to rebuild the freeway from downtown north to Beltway 8. The redesign includes moving I-45 from the west side of the central business to the east, parallel to I-69. As a result, the project will radically redesign every downtown freeway interchange.

BENEFITS IN LIMBO: Supporters of I-45 widening say pause puts promises of relief on hold, too

Though TxDOT has halted development of many segments, the portion along I-69 from Spur 527 to Texas 288 — which includes Wheeler — remains on pace for construction to start next year. Widening I-45 and redoing the downtown system is spread across many distinct but connected projects, and TxDOT had approvals and design ready for the first segments, but has halted development of the others until a lawsuit filed by Harris County and the federal review are settled.

That work could affect Wheeler and the Red Line early on, as burying the freeway through Midtown and rebuilding city streets could mean months of detours and delays for transit in the area.

The Wheeler work and potential to have the Red Line, the most-used transit line in Texas, cut in half by construction is not the only impact Metro is weighing with the I-45 work. In 2017, Metro estimated reconstruction of I-45 could cost transit officials an additional $24 million annually simply in employee time and fuel related to detours.

ROOM TO MOVE: Managed, maybe elevated lanes considered for I-10 as TxDOT tries out options for clogged corridor

Wheeler already is a major stop in the Metro system, but its importance is set to increase, based on the agency’s long-range transit plan. Riders will use Wheeler to transfer to and from the Red Line light rail, the spine of the train network, and the longest planned bus rapid transit line serving northeast Houston, Midtown and Westchase.

The 25-mile BRT line, referred to as the University Corridor, is proposed to run from Tidwell near Interstate 69 through east Houston to the University of Houston and Texas Southern University campuses. From there, the line travels west to Midtown, where it connects to the Wheeler Red Line stop, then on to Greenway Plaza, south of Uptown and on to Westchase near Westpark and Beltway 8.

Metro officials are in the early stages of planning the line, part of the package of new projects approved by voters in November 2019.

Still, Metro officials said given discussions in Washington, D.C. about infrastructure investment and the need for options other than highway and automobile travel, having the University Corridor ready could help tap federal dollars.

“We are looking at every possible way we can to expedite it,” Metro Deputy CEO Tom Jasien told transit board members.

That might allow Metro

Aaron Luna, 26, hopped off the Route 5 bus Tuesday morning, both hands typing away on his smartphone.

His gaze never left the screen as he stepped along the sidewalk at Main and turned at the Wheeler Transit Center. Luna, who lives in Riverside Terrace, slowed as he approached the train tracks, but never stopped typing. After 13 years using the Metropolitan Transit Authority transit center on and off, he said he does not need a lot of prompting to know his surroundings.

“I do it every day,” Luna said, adding his routine is so rote he hardly pays attention on the bus because he can almost sense his stop approaching.

In a matter of months, he will have to watch his step, as a flurry of changes could radically redesign Wheeler to make way for a new freeway and new transit offerings.

Metro’s board is scheduled Thursday to approve hiring design and engineering firm STV Incorporated for services related to the controversial Interstate 45 project. Though the bulk of the project will widen I-45, it includes a near-total redesign of the downtown freeway system, starting with work along Interstate 69 at Spur 527, putting Wheeler — where Texas Department of Transportation officials plan to bury the freeway below local streets — in the first phases.

RAIL ON THE FLY: Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could put train to Hobby Airport on the front burner

The contract with STV, valued at up to $9.6 million for the next five years, would allow Metro to consult the company as it plans for transit operations during construction and how what is built will affect its own upcoming projects.

The goal, officials said, is to limit disruptions to bus and rail service and preserve the space Metro will need for future transit lanes and stations, so adding them later does not become a costly and complicated challenge.

Wheeler Transit Center is the epicenter of those concerns.

“It is absolutely imperative we understand the impacts of the (I-45 rebuild) on the Wheeler site,” said Clint Harbert, vice-president of system and capital planning for Metro. “That includes all of the stakeholder activity around us and the loss of property at the Wheeler site, as well as how is BRT going to go through.”

The transit center, which at times has had safety concerns because of its isolated location practically beneath the freeway between Fannin and Main, is rapidly getting new neighbors and more visibility. The former Sears property in Midtown is the centerpiece of a planned “innovation hub” and redevelopment is occurring on many nearby blocks.

The I-45 project is likely to be the most significant impact on the transit center. The project remains in limbo because of opposition from Houston and Harris County officials and re-evaluation at the federal level of the plans to rebuild the freeway from downtown north to Beltway 8. The redesign includes moving I-45 from the west side of the central business to the east, parallel to I-69. As a result, the project will radically redesign every downtown freeway interchange.

BENEFITS IN LIMBO: Supporters of I-45 widening say pause puts promises of relief on hold, too

Though TxDOT has halted development of many segments, the portion along I-69 from Spur 527 to Texas 288 — which includes Wheeler — remains on pace for construction to start next year. Widening I-45 and redoing the downtown system is spread across many distinct but connected projects, and TxDOT had approvals and design ready for the first segments, but has halted development of the others until a lawsuit filed by Harris County and the federal review are settled.

That work could affect Wheeler and the Red Line early on, as burying the freeway through Midtown and rebuilding city streets could mean months of detours and delays for transit in the area.

The Wheeler work and potential to have the Red Line, the most-used transit line in Texas, cut in half by construction is not the only impact Metro is weighing with the I-45 work. In 2017, Metro estimated reconstruction of I-45 could cost transit officials an additional $24 million annually simply in employee time and fuel related to detours.

ROOM TO MOVE: Managed, maybe elevated lanes considered for I-10 as TxDOT tries out options for clogged corridor

Wheeler already is a major stop in the Metro system, but its importance is set to increase, based on the agency’s long-range transit plan. Riders will use Wheeler to transfer to and from the Red Line light rail, the spine of the train network, and the longest planned bus rapid transit line serving northeast Houston, Midtown and Westchase.

The 25-mile BRT line, referred to as the University Corridor, is proposed to run from Tidwell near Interstate 69 through east Houston to the University of Houston and Texas Southern University campuses. From there, the line travels west to Midtown, where it connects to the Wheeler Red Line stop, then on to Greenway Plaza, south of Uptown and on to Westchase near Westpark and Beltway 8.

Metro officials are in the early stages of planning the line, part of the package of new projects approved by voters in November 2019.

Still, Metro officials said given discussions in Washington, D.C. about infrastructure investment and the need for options other than highway and automobile travel, having the University Corridor ready could help tap federal dollars.

“We are looking at every possible way we can to expedite it,” Metro Deputy CEO Tom Jasien told transit board members.

That might allow Metro to tap money for planning and development available from federal sources. Wednesday, the Federal Transit Administration announced a $10 million pilot program to help agencies plan for transit projects that combat climate change by reducing vehicle emissions, especially in under-served communities.

“When people can move safely and easily

Aaron Luna, 26, hopped off the Route 5 bus Tuesday morning, both hands typing away on his smartphone.

His gaze never left the screen as he stepped along the sidewalk at Main and turned at the Wheeler Transit Center. Luna, who lives in Riverside Terrace, slowed as he approached the train tracks, but never stopped typing. After 13 years using the Metropolitan Transit Authority transit center on and off, he said he does not need a lot of prompting to know his surroundings.

“I do it every day,” Luna said, adding his routine is so rote he hardly pays attention on the bus because he can almost sense his stop approaching.

In a matter of months, he will have to watch his step, as a flurry of changes could radically redesign Wheeler to make way for a new freeway and new transit offerings.

Metro’s board is scheduled Thursday to approve hiring design and engineering firm STV Incorporated for services related to the controversial Interstate 45 project. Though the bulk of the project will widen I-45, it includes a near-total redesign of the downtown freeway system, starting with work along Interstate 69 at Spur 527, putting Wheeler — where Texas Department of Transportation officials plan to bury the freeway below local streets — in the first phases.

RAIL ON THE FLY: Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could put train to Hobby Airport on the front burner

The contract with STV, valued at up to $9.6 million for the next five years, would allow Metro to consult the company as it plans for transit operations during construction and how what is built will affect its own upcoming projects.

The goal, officials said, is to limit disruptions to bus and rail service and preserve the space Metro will need for future transit lanes and stations, so adding them later does not become a costly and complicated challenge.

Wheeler Transit Center is the epicenter of those concerns.

“It is absolutely imperative we understand the impacts of the (I-45 rebuild) on the Wheeler site,” said Clint Harbert, vice-president of system and capital planning for Metro. “That includes all of the stakeholder activity around us and the loss of property at the Wheeler site, as well as how is BRT going to go through.”

The transit center, which at times has had safety concerns because of its isolated location practically beneath the freeway between Fannin and Main, is rapidly getting new neighbors and more visibility. The former Sears property in Midtown is the centerpiece of a planned “innovation hub” and redevelopment is occurring on many nearby blocks.

The I-45 project is likely to be the most significant impact on the transit center. The project remains in limbo because of opposition from Houston and Harris County officials and re-evaluation at the federal level of the plans to rebuild the freeway from downtown north to Beltway 8. The redesign includes moving I-45 from the west side of the central business to the east, parallel to I-69. As a result, the project will radically redesign every downtown freeway interchange.

BENEFITS IN LIMBO: Supporters of I-45 widening say pause puts promises of relief on hold, too

Though TxDOT has halted development of many segments, the portion along I-69 from Spur 527 to Texas 288 — which includes Wheeler — remains on pace for construction to start next year. Widening I-45 and redoing the downtown system is spread across many distinct but connected projects, and TxDOT had approvals and design ready for the first segments, but has halted development of the others until a lawsuit filed by Harris County and the federal review are settled.

That work could affect Wheeler and the Red Line early on, as burying the freeway through Midtown and rebuilding city streets could mean months of detours and delays for transit in the area.

The Wheeler work and potential to have the Red Line, the most-used transit line in Texas, cut in half by construction is not the only impact Metro is weighing with the I-45 work. In 2017, Metro estimated reconstruction of I-45 could cost transit officials an additional $24 million annually simply in employee time and fuel related to detours.

ROOM TO MOVE: Managed, maybe elevated lanes considered for I-10 as TxDOT tries out options for clogged corridor

Wheeler already is a major stop in the Metro system, but its importance is set to increase, based on the agency’s long-range transit plan. Riders will use Wheeler to transfer to and from the Red Line light rail, the spine of the train network, and the longest planned bus rapid transit line serving northeast Houston, Midtown and Westchase.

The 25-mile BRT line, referred to as the University Corridor, is proposed to run from Tidwell near Interstate 69 through east Houston to the University of Houston and Texas Southern University campuses. From there, the line travels west to Midtown, where it connects to the Wheeler Red Line stop, then on to Greenway Plaza, south of Uptown and on to Westchase near Westpark and Beltway 8.

Metro officials are in the early stages of planning the line, part of the package of new projects approved by voters in November 2019.

Still, Metro officials said given discussions in Washington, D.C. about infrastructure investment and the need for options other than highway and automobile travel, having the University Corridor ready could help tap federal dollars.

“We are looking at every possible way we can to expedite it,” Metro Deputy CEO Tom Jasien told transit board members.

That might allow Metro to tap money for planning and development available from federal sources. Wednesday, the Federal Transit Administration announced a $10

Aaron Luna, 26, hopped off the Route 5 bus Tuesday morning, both hands typing away on his smartphone.

His gaze never left the screen as he stepped along the sidewalk at Main and turned at the Wheeler Transit Center. Luna, who lives in Riverside Terrace, slowed as he approached the train tracks, but never stopped typing. After 13 years using the Metropolitan Transit Authority transit center on and off, he said he does not need a lot of prompting to know his surroundings.

“I do it every day,” Luna said, adding his routine is so rote he hardly pays attention on the bus because he can almost sense his stop approaching.

In a matter of months, he will have to watch his step, as a flurry of changes could radically redesign Wheeler to make way for a new freeway and new transit offerings.

Metro’s board is scheduled Thursday to approve hiring design and engineering firm STV Incorporated for services related to the controversial Interstate 45 project. Though the bulk of the project will widen I-45, it includes a near-total redesign of the downtown freeway system, starting with work along Interstate 69 at Spur 527, putting Wheeler — where Texas Department of Transportation officials plan to bury the freeway below local streets — in the first phases.

RAIL ON THE FLY: Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could put train to Hobby Airport on the front burner

The contract with STV, valued at up to $9.6 million for the next five years, would allow Metro to consult the company as it plans for transit operations during construction and how what is built will affect its own upcoming projects.

The goal, officials said, is to limit disruptions to bus and rail service and preserve the space Metro will need for future transit lanes and stations, so adding them later does not become a costly and complicated challenge.

Wheeler Transit Center is the epicenter of those concerns.

“It is absolutely imperative we understand the impacts of the (I-45 rebuild) on the Wheeler site,” said Clint Harbert, vice-president of system and capital planning for Metro. “That includes all of the stakeholder activity around us and the loss of property at the Wheeler site, as well as how is BRT going to go through.”

The transit center, which at times has had safety concerns because of its isolated location practically beneath the freeway between Fannin and Main, is rapidly getting new neighbors and more visibility. The former Sears property in Midtown is the centerpiece of a planned “innovation hub” and redevelopment is occurring on many nearby blocks.

The I-45 project is likely to be the most significant impact on the transit center. The project remains in limbo because of opposition from Houston and Harris County officials and re-evaluation at the federal level of the plans to rebuild the freeway from downtown north to Beltway 8. The redesign includes moving I-45 from the west side of the central business to the east, parallel to I-69. As a result, the project will radically redesign every downtown freeway interchange.

BENEFITS IN LIMBO: Supporters of I-45 widening say pause puts promises of relief on hold, too

Though TxDOT has halted development of many segments, the portion along I-69 from Spur 527 to Texas 288 — which includes Wheeler — remains on pace for construction to start next year. Widening I-45 and redoing the downtown system is spread across many distinct but connected projects, and TxDOT had approvals and design ready for the first segments, but has halted development of the others until a lawsuit filed by Harris County and the federal review are settled.

That work could affect Wheeler and the Red Line early on, as burying the freeway through Midtown and rebuilding city streets could mean months of detours and delays for transit in the area.

The Wheeler work and potential to have the Red Line, the most-used transit line in Texas, cut in half by construction is not the only impact Metro is weighing with the I-45 work. In 2017, Metro estimated reconstruction of I-45 could cost transit officials an additional $24 million annually simply in employee time and fuel related to detours.

ROOM TO MOVE: Managed, maybe elevated lanes considered for I-10 as TxDOT tries out options for clogged corridor

Wheeler already is a major stop in the Metro system, but its importance is set to increase, based on the agency’s long-range transit plan. Riders will use Wheeler to transfer to and from the Red Line light rail, the spine of the train network, and the longest planned bus rapid transit line serving northeast Houston, Midtown and Westchase.

The 25-mile BRT line, referred to as the University Corridor, is proposed to run from Tidwell near Interstate 69 through east Houston to the University of Houston and Texas Southern University campuses. From there, the line travels west to Midtown, where it connects to the Wheeler Red Line stop, then on to Greenway Plaza, south of Uptown and on to Westchase near Westpark and Beltway 8.

Metro officials are in the early stages of planning the line, part of the package of new projects approved by voters in November 2019.

Still, Metro officials said given discussions in Washington, D.C. about infrastructure investment and the need for options other than highway and automobile travel, having the University Corridor ready could help tap federal dollars.

“We are looking at every possible way we can to expedite it,” Metro Deputy CEO Tom Jasien told transit board members.

That might allow Metro to tap money fo

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r planning and development available from federal sources. Wednesday, the Federal Transit Administration announced a $10 million pilot program to help agencies plan for transit projects that combat climate change by reducing vehicle emissions, especially in under-served communities.

“When people can move safely and easily by public transit, foot, bike, wheelchair, or any other means, it can change a community for the better,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release announcing the pilot. “This type of investment can save residents money and time, and reduce pollution impacting our neighborhoods.”

[email protected]

million pilot program to help agencies plan for transit projects that combat climate change by reducing vehicle emissions, especially in under-served communities.

“When people can move safely and easily by public transit, foot, bike, wheelchair, or any other means, it can change a community for the better,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release announcing the pilot. “This type of investment can save residents money and time, and reduce pollution impacting our neighborhoods.”

[email protected]

by public transit, foot, bike, wheelchair, or any other means, it can change a community for the better,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release announcing the pilot. “This type of investment can save residents money and time, and reduce pollution impacting our neighborhoods.”

[email protected]

to tap money for planning and development available from federal sources. Wednesday, the Federal Transit Administration announced a $10 million pilot program to help agencies plan for transit projects that combat climate change by reducing vehicle emissions, especially in under-served communities.

“When people can move safely and easily by public transit, foot, bike, wheelchair, or any other means, it can change a community for the better,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release announcing the pilot. “This type of investment can save residents money and time, and reduce pollution impacting our neighborhoods.”

[email protected]

etro to tap money for planning and development available from federal sources. Wednesday, the Federal Transit Administration announced a $10 million pilot program to help agencies plan for transit projects that combat climate change by reducing vehicle emissions, especially in under-served communities.

“When people can move safely and easily by public transit, foot, bike, wheelchair, or any other means, it can change a community for the better,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release announcing the pilot. “This type of investment can save residents money and time, and reduce pollution impacting our neighborhoods.”

[email protected]

ublic transit, foot, bike, wheelchair, or any other means, it can change a community for the better,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release announcing the pilot. “This type of investment can save residents money and time, and reduce pollution impacting our neighborhoods.”

[email protected]

d easily by public transit, foot, bike, wheelchair, or any other means, it can change a community for the better,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release announcing the pilot. “This type of investment can save residents money and time, and reduce pollution impacting our neighborhoods.”

[email protected]



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