September 09, 2005
Studewood and the viaduct

Two roadwork-related stories with an impact on me and my neighborhood. First is a report on the alternative ideas for the viaduct that would connect the Hardy Toll Road to its downtown extension.

The 50-year-old viaduct is a four-lane, elevated bridge that begins at Commerce Street and heads north over Buffalo Bayou and I-10 before reaching Quitman Street.

TxDOT wants to widen the viaduct and expand it to the planned future Hardy Toll Road extension near Loop 610.

While some alternatives still involve the taking of residential property for the extension, a number of others reroute the viaduct into areas of the Near Northside more heavily populated by businesses.

Four of the designs reroute Elysian Street east after Burnett along a path between Maury and Maffitt, which is less residential.

The plan would call for the acquisition of no more than two residential properties and between eight and 11 commercial properties from Harrington north to the proposed Hardy Toll Road extension.

The estimated cost is $33.2 million to $38.3 million.

Three other alternatives, which include the initial plan to build directly along the current path of the viaduct, would require between 15 and 21 residential properties to be purchased at a cost of $37 million to $40.3 million.

"The main goal is that we have to replace that existing bridge," said Todd Thurber, a public engineer for TxDOT. "But the only alternative to what we initially proposed is to come through more commercial property."

I really really hope they get this right, and that it's done in a way that's sensitive to the needs of the Near Northside folks. The Hardy extension is a key to alleviating I-45 traffic, which in turn would hopefully mitigate the plans to widen it. There's to be another public meeting on this later on, so I'll keep an eye open for it.

Closer to home, there's the Studewood reconstruction project, which is right now a big mess because the contractor is out of money. There will be a public meeting next week to address this.

Concerns among Heights residents about what appears to be the stalling of a major road construction project on Studewood Street has led state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, and District H City Councilman Adrian Garcia to call a public meeting about the project.

The meeting will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Heights Fire Station, 107 E. 12th St.

Doug Stephens, a public engineer from TxDOT, along with engineers from the city of Houston, will be on hand to answer questions at the meeting.


Farrar said the meeting will address any neighborhood concerns, and alert people to exactly what is holding up construction.

"(Infrastructure Services Inc.) has run into some issues that you often do when you work in older neighborhoods," Farrar said. "They're working with older pipes, smaller pipes, stuff breaking down. Those are some of the issues. What it's doing is adding cost above and beyond the initial contract.

"They are in the process of securing more money," Farrar added.

Farrar said once the contractor receives additional funds, the work will continue.

I sure hope so.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 09, 2005 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

Is there any current word on the Studewood project? Projected completion? I noticed that on the TXDOT site that the contractor has changed to ISI Contracting, which I think is the same one with a different name/initials. It also says that as of January 20th, 2006 it is only 64% complete. I've been googleing around trying to find any completion info with no luck. I live off Main, but it sure would be nice to have Studewood back. (I REALLY feel sorry for those people who live on it; I would have lost my mind/patience a long time ago.) Thanks for any help!

Best regards,

Posted by: Barbara on February 3, 2006 6:35 PM