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Katy Freeway cost overrun

They’ve barely begun to move dirt and already the cost estimates for the massive boondoggle-ish expansion of the Katy Freeway have been increased by 17%. That’s $244 million, for those who prefer real numbers.

“We’re concerned that perhaps some of these unanticipated events and extra costs might delay the project,” said John Johnson, state transportation commissioner. “The department is doing everything possible given the circumstances to move the entire project from 610 out to the Fort Bend County line forward on the time schedule.”

Boy, you could just knock me down with a sledgehammer there. Whoever heard of unanticipated events in a multi-year rush-job construction project?

The rest of the article has the usual Serious Concerns and whatnot. I expect there to be more in the near and not so near future. Maybe a better plan might mitigate things, not that I expect the powers that be to consider one. BTW, those powers don’t include Houston Mayor Lee Brown. Better find a scapegoat quick, guys!

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10 Comments

  1. Anonymouse says:

    The “better plan” has been “considered” to an extent. Yes its funded by TxDOT and is an effort to discredit the KCC concept, however, looking at it strictly from an engineering point of view, it appears to raise very valid concerns about the validity of the KCC concept. http://www.katyfreeway.org/KCC_Concept_Report.pdf

    Members of the KCC like to point towards the Dallas North Central Expressway reconstruction as an example of what they would prefer to see built for the Katy, yet 75 is only crossed by a single major drainage facility, whereas there are at least 8 on the Katy. I would enjoy seeing the KCC concept better detailed, in a manner that addresses the issues raised in the TxDOT “debunking”. If KCC can show their concept not losing federal funding and not adding 500 million in planned construction costs, I will continue to naively believe that some change could come.

  2. Tom says:

    I strongly oppose the TXDOT I10 plan that continues rampant freeway expansion with toll lanes in preference to the alternative of high-speed commuter rail. This statement in the Chronicle article was most disturbing: “Eckels and Radack both called on Gov. Rick Perry to add two bills to the special legislative session agenda that would make it easier to condemn parcels needed for the freeway widening.”

  3. Ted says:

    Houston will never be a world class city with the current mobility crisis. The constant opposition to sensible solutions will only “drive” the city further behind cities that realize there are other options to transportation than concrete and oil. I wonder what the coming months will bring re: this debacle. Gee I wonder if we could have used the existing rail lines ? I wonder if we will ever venture into this century.

  4. Thomas M. says:

    Spring Branch Creek near Wirt Road is the only significant drainage crossing problem spelled out in the Parsons Brinkerhof analysis of the KCC concept. One “hump” in the otherwise depressed freeway would solve that problem if the engineers can’t. Disposal of dirt from the excavation could raise subdivisions on the Katy prairie and help solve their “pancake” problem. The KCC proposed two alternatives, one with rail along one side of the freeway. If Harris County backs out of the toll road deal, Metro could put such a line in their November election so it could go forward and be finished sooner than the freeway. There is enough right-of-way without condemning more private property to do either KCC concept, or some variation of it that makes sense.

  5. Patrick says:

    What kills me about the Katy freeway expansion is one of the areas that will be turned into yet another freeway lane is a former railway bed running along the north side of the Katy. Yes, it was a heavy rail line, but it would have been easier and more useful to convert it years ago instead of just letting the grass grow over it.

  6. Felicia Mancuso says:

    It is unbelievable that one of the most recent proposed plans for rail includes every major freeway except for I10. A plan that eliminates the I10 corridor is ridiculous. That would greatly affect the property values way out west in 10-20 years when people are looking for homes in an area with mass transit options. There may not be a need for rail at this moment, but there should at least be a plan and space for it so that it can be implemented when it is needed.

  7. Jim Tucker says:

    The really sad part is we are still trying to use the Interstate Highway System to get daily commuters to work. It is no surprise that out-of-pocket costs climb on poorly-thought-out solution to the problem (how to move more people), rather than on how we can move more vehicles. It’s surprising double-decking has not been proposed. Right-of-way problems are reduced and we can drive in the shade one way. Plus the former rail RoW is available for a nice modern off-grade heavy rail system.

    Not a lot of leadership from Metro or elected public servents since I started observing this issue in 1974.

  8. Jim Tucker says:

    The really sad part is we are still trying to use the Interstate Highway System to get daily commuters to work. It is no surprise that out-of-pocket costs climb on poorly-thought-out solution to the problem (how to move more people), rather than on how we can move more vehicles. It’s surprising double-decking has not been proposed. Right-of-way problems are reduced and we can drive in the shade one way. Plus the former rail RoW is available for a nice modern off-grade heavy rail system.

    Not a lot of leadership from Metro or elected public servents since I started observing this issue in 1974.

  9. JW says:

    I do not understand why Rep. Culberson has felt the need to ramrod this expansion project through at a rushed pace. Anytime a project is approached without taking the time for careful review and planning, budget overruns are inevitable. Wow — a 17% overrun projected at the very outset of construction. Seems to me like someone should say, “Hold on, guys. Back to the drawing board.”

    I, too, would like to better understand the KCC plan. The thought of anything below grade in wet Houston makes me nervous, but I would surely like to understand alternatives to just widening the freeway.

    I would also like to see high-level leadership encourage their constituents to telecommute and shop the internet to minimize the time in their cars. We cannot simply continue to expand roadways and live with the increased localized pollution. Our society must find other ways of getting their work done and their desires satiated — other ways besides jumping in the car at every whim.

  10. Wes says:

    Double-decking I-10 is about the worst solution I’ve heard. The last thing we need is an even bigger eyesore.

    Asking people to do their shopping on the internet is fine and all, until all the local shops go out of business because all their customers are at home getting fat and going blind in front of a computer. Mixed use neighborhoods are the answer, where you can walk from your house to the store or the doctor or the hair salon and get a little excercise, too.

    Development on the Katy prairie is the problem. Residents can’t go anywhere without driving. Get people to live where they work, shop, and play. When people don’t need to drive, they won’t need a bigger freeway.