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Quincy Allen, P.E., TxDOT District Engineer Talks About Projects in Houston

Wednesday, May 24, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Caroline Alvarez



Quincy Allen, P.E., TxDOT District Engineer Talks About Projects in Houston




      The Houston Contractors Association was proud to welcome TxDOT District Engineer for the Houston region, Quincy Allen, P.E. as our keynote speaker this month.  Mr. Allen started off his comments by noting that TxDOT celebrated its 100th birthday this year.  On April 4, 1917 Governor James Ferguson signed into law HB2 creating the Texas Highway Department.  In October of 1918 the first highway construction project began creating a 20 mile road between Falfurrias and Encino which is now part of US 281. In 1956 the Federal Highway Trust Fund was created and Congress appropriates $25 billion for building the interstate highway system.  Currently there are more than 80,000 miles of state maintained roads with over 53,000 bridges and 6,000 traffic signals. 


Mr. Allen stated that there are about 17 million drivers on the Texas roadways each day making congestion relief a priority. Currently TxDOT is working on the largest project plan in its history.  The UTP or Unified Transportation Program is a ten year planning document that contains $70 billion worth of TxDOT projects. Looking into the future, Mr. Allen stated that smart vehicles will probably become a reality in our lifetime.  He said that he is excited about that because it will help TxDOT operate their systems more efficiently.  With smart vehicles regulating the merging and following distance automatically, but he did note that this will only be affective once all the cars are smart cars.


The Houston District encompasses six counties, contains over 6,000 square miles and 6 million people with 5 million vehicles.  There are over 10,000 lane miles in the district and motorists in the district drive approximately 173 million miles per day. Of that 173 million miles driven, 10 million of that is in the form of heavy truck traffic.


Looking at active projects in the district, Mr. Allen started with the work being done on US 290.  He stated  that the good news is that they have all of the right of way and most of the utilities have been moved.  He stated that the project should be completed in 2018. 


Mr. Allen said that TxDOT is doing its first concession project with the reconstruction of state highway 288.  This project is being done by the Blueridge Transportation Group.  This is an $800 million project that TxDOT does not have to pay for.  The concessionaire owns that corridor for 52 years and is responsible for building and maintaining that section of the highway. To cover the cost, there will be several managed lanes added to the highway which Blueridge will collect the tolls on.  The estimated completion date of that project will be July of 2019.


US 59 at Loop 610 has been found to be the most congested intersection in the State, said Allen.  TxDOT is planning to rebuild that interchange adding five new direct connectors, widening the ramps and realigning Post Oak Blvd.  This will be a $200 million project and will be one of the biggest done in the City, The project should be out for bid in August.


  There will be a congestion relief project on I-10 between Brookshire and Sealy in an attempt to relieve Austin traffic coming off of SH 71.  This is a 25 mile stretch and should be replaced over the next ten years.  Removing the existing four lane highway and replacing it with six lanes.


 The North Houston Highway Improvement Project will cover 24 miles of I-45 along with some of I-69 and I-10.  According to Mr. Allen, this is an old stretch of highway that needs to be reconstructed to improve the safety alone, not to mention the congestion.  He noted that this project has six of the 100 worst congestion points in the state within its boundaries.  Currently there is a single HOV lane in the center of the highway.  This will be replaced with four managed lanes.  The highway will be expanded from three lanes each way to four, plus a lane on the frontage road will be added.  The section between Loop 610 and I-10 has right of way problems with a cemetery on one side and a historical neighborhood on the other.  To remedy this, TxDOT will use the existing hole where the freeway drops below grade and make the hole wider.  Using every inch of right of way that TxDOT has available to them.  This location is also open to the development of a deck park and TxDOT is working with Houstonfirst to find a partner to that can make that happen.


Untangling downtown will be a challenge said Allen.  Multiple ideas have come about over the years on how to fix I-45 where it goes by downtown.  One day when looking over the TxDOT right of way around downtown it was noticed that with the purchase of a little more right of way, I-45 could be relocated to run along the US-59 and I-10 corridors, and eliminating the need for the pierce elevated section of I-45.  The north side of the pierce elevated will become connectors to downtown, while the south end will be demolished.  When this project is completed, Mr. Allen said that Houston drivers will be able to travel 20 mph faster than they currently are today on I-45.  This project is slated to begin construction in the summer of 2020.