Gerald Sanchez and his father, Sam, are true Houston sports fans. Not even a stroke that confined Sam to a wheelchair six years ago could sideline their attendance at Astros, Rockets and Texans games.
Sam’s wheelchair, however, did keep them out of Minute Maid Park for the past two playoff series, a casualty of the team’s popularity and high ticket demand.
“It’s just a shame,” Gerald Sanchez, 41, said, noting the importance he and his father place on their time supporting Houston teams.
Astros officials said they work to accommodate every request from fans, but cannot guarantee wheelchair-accessible seating in lieu of conventional tickets if others have bought the seats.
Source: Post-season seats can be obstacle for disabled Astros fans – Houston Chronicle
Calling a planned high-speed rail connection to Dallas “an idea whose time has come,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner signed an agreement Thursday with the bullet train’s backers that both sides said is the first of many steps to making the trip a reality.
“This is the starting point to begin the process of definitive agreements,” Turner said, underscoring that the agreement between Houston and Texas Central Partners lacks specifics but commits both to cooperate on a project both want built.
Before a formal signing ceremony at City Hall, the city and company said the memorandum of understanding commits both sides to share environmental surveys, utility analysis and engineering related to the project and surrounding area. It also calls for them to work together to develop new transit and other travel options to and from the likely terminus of the bullet train line.
Source: Agreement first step in bringing a high-speed rail connection between Houston and Dallas – Houston Chronicle
Citing a need to protect Texans, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed a bill banning texting while driving, shortly before calling on lawmakers to set clear statewide standards for all phone use behind the wheel.
“It took 10 years, but we got here,” said State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, who championed the bill with State Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland. “We got there with people and a lot of hard work to convince others texting while driving is dangerous and deadly.”
Previous attempts at texting bans either failed to get out of the Legislature or fell to the governor’s veto pen.
Source: Texas ban on texting while driving takes effect Sept. 1 – Houston Chronicle
Anyone who’s sat long enough in Texas traffic knows it feels like going in circles. So maybe it’s fitting that one day it could be replaced with a loop that could make traveling from Houston to San Antonio, Austin or Dallas take about as long as a drive to Galveston.
No, seriously. Four cities in a little less than two hours, give or take. Some far sooner, via a system that would feel a lot like flying in a commercial plane, but in a closed tube across the ground.
A Texas plan using the Hyperloop concept envisioned by Tesla founder Elon Musk is one of 35 proposals from around the globe competing this week in Washington for bragging rights as the best initial project for the technology. Hyperloop One, the company currently testing the idea, sponsored the contest.
“From a planning perspective and from a regulatory perspective Texas is a good first step for Hyperloop,” said Steven Duong, the team leader, based in Dallas, for Hyperloop Texas. “Population is a big part of it, but not just population, but population growth. So is the climate in Texas for development.”
Source: Hyperloop envisions Texans traveling in tubes at 700 mph – Houston Chronicle
So the project some only dreamed about is, at least on paper, a reality, pending the allocation of more than $900 million for the reconstruction of two major interstate intersections in the downtown area.
Though these first steps are incremental compared to the overall plan, officials say they are important and send the clear message: The I-45 freeway is relocating and the elevated portion along Pierce will be abandoned and maybe demolished within the next dozen years.
“We are turning the key and starting the engine and moving,” said Quincy Allen, district director for the Texas Department of Transportation in Houston.
Source: State accelerates start time for major I-45 improvement project – Houston Chronicle
State lawmakers on Tuesday moved to derail plans for a privately-funded high-speed rail line in Texas, filing nearly two dozen bills to stop the project in its tracks or lessen its effect on landowners should trains roll ahead.
The 18 bills, nine in the Texas Senate with companions in the Texas House, and five others focus on severely limiting Texas Central Partners’ ability to develop a Houston-to-Dallas bullet train line. The project is supported by officials in both cities, but strongly opposed by many rural landowners and elected officials.
Opponents called the deluge of fresh legislation an impressive and persuasive show of the uphill battle the 240-mile rail project faces.
“There is a solid block,” said Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail. “How many other issues do you know that generate this solidarity? This is a big deal.”
Source: Texas legislators trying to put brakes on Houston-to-Dallas bullet train – Houston Chronicle
Since 2004 when the original 7.5 miles of the Red Line opened, the train has been a source of tension and frustration for drivers. Though many lament the loss of block after block of left turns from Main, others have always questioned the safety of having trains intersect with vehicle traffic.
Incidents are common enough that critics have for years called the line the “danger train” because of its role in accidents.
As the mileage of light rail in Houston has grown, so have the number of collisions. In 2014, before the Green Line and Purple Line opened, Metro reported 58 collisions. Last year, the number of collisions jumped to 108, though many were along the Red Line.
Source: Two recent bicyclists’ deaths put spotlight on Metro rail collisions – Houston Chronicle
Steve Costello – Houston’s chief resilience officer, aka “flood czar” – needed less than a second to answer how to spend a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure for America.
“I would want about $3 billion for the city of Houston and Harris County for the bayous,” he said.
Any Houstonian who’s dried couch or car upholstery after a recent flood might easily agree, for what’s becoming a part of living in some neighborhoods. Powerful, persistent storms the past two years soaked streets, stranded drivers who risked a high-water ride and lost. In some neighborhoods near bayous the rains busted in, leaving behind waterlogged carpets and mud stains before receding back within the banks.
Ask engineers in Texas, and like the saying goes everything is bigger here, including the needs and costs for new water pipes, locks and dams and roads and bridges. A plan to realign Interstate 45 in the Houston area alone is expected to cost about $7 billion, about the same as the lowest cost estimates for storm-surge protection for Galveston Bay.
“Anybody can easily come up with a $1 billion or $5 billion way to spend on infrastructure, whatever amount you say,” said Mike Voinis, Houston office leader for HNTB, a national engineering company. “There never is going to be enough money to handle all that, so we need to come up with innovative ways and creative ways to leverage the dollars we have… No amount of money can solve what we have.”
Source: Texas officials drafting wish list for potential infrastructure funding windfall – Houston Chronicle
Experts in hurricane risk and economics said if Ike had hit landfall 30 miles to the southwest of where it did – which would have put it centered on top of the ship channel – damages easily could have exceeded $100 billion.
Since Ike, billions more in petrochemical investment has poured into the Houston region, along with between 500,000 and 600,000 more people. Add all of that to the previous risk, and some see a recipe for disaster.
“There is a possibility, under the right storm, of killing a devastating number of people, and having a devastating effect on the economy,” said William Merrell, a Texas A&M University at Galveston marine scientist. “The more we look at it, the more appalling it is.”
Source: Houston, and its global petrochemical hub, remain in the eye of the storm – Houston Chronicle
“Share the road” might be a mantra for bicyclists, but it’s proving a tough sell in some parts of the Houston area, while being embraced in others.
Two local events, a week apart, illustrate the challenge of integrating bike culture into a car-centric metropolitan region.
The image of hundreds of bicycles zipping along brand-new freeway lanes without a car in sight might seem like a fantasy to cycling advocates, but it will happen on Saturday as officials give cyclists the first crack at the newest segment of the Grand Parkway for a charity event.
Source: Bike events expand, but find uphill battle