Wednesday, July 16, 2014

1989 Beltway and Fuqua Traffic Woes

Recent adjust for the traffic signals and signs at I-45 and Beltway 8 have relieved some of the traffic congestion at the intersection during rush house. Residents traveling north on I-45, exiting at South Belt still stack up trying to snake through the intersection into Sagemont. Highway officials said they would take another look at the situation. 

Cloverleaf wrong solution for Almeda-Genoa traffic

As part of an overall plan to expand I-45 from six to eight lanes with a center transit way, the Gulf Freeway will remain under construction conditions through 1992. The concept will change the look of the familiar infamous intersection including the Almeda-Genoa/I-45 overpass. 

The Gulf Freeway and Almeda-Genoa will literally flip places when the final construction of the interchange is complete. The new lanes of I-45 and the transit lane will transverse Almeda-Genoa overhead.

According to the Texas Department of Highways, the configuration chosen for the interchange allows for the most convenient flow of traffic on Almeda-Genoa and access to and from Kleckley and Frey.

At intersections along I-45 from Loop 610 to Almeda-Genoa, the Gulf Freeway will go over the intersection. Once construction starts south of Almeda-Genoa, the nine-lane freeway will pass under recently constructed bridges such as Scarsdale.

One more look at intersection: Beltway 8 handles heavy traffic

Despite problems associated with traffic timing and directional turn signs at Beltway 8 and I-45, a number of motorists like using the beltway system. 

Texas Highway Department Project Engineer Charles Frey sais more and more people use the beltway each week.

"We've noticed a greater number of cars on the beltway since we first opened the system. We don't have any exact counts yet, but the number of people using some of he old routers in and out of Pasadena has dropped greatly. We just don't see as many cars on those roads like we did before the beltway was opened," said Frey.

Frey admitted the highway department did spend a lot of time re-evaluating the interchange at I-45 and Beltway 0 after the beltway opened. "We worked with the city on adjusting the timing of the traffic signals so they coordinated with the amount of traffic using the intersection.

Apparently we need to ask for another readjustment on the light timing for the afternoon rush hour. Traffic backs up along the beltway too much as well as traffic travelling north on I-45 from the Clear Lake area and Galveston wanting to use the intersection to get home to the South Belt area. We need to increase he length of the green lights," said Frey. 

Frey said his division has sent a requesting into Austin asking that a curving right turn lane, before the light, going from west-bound Beltway 8 to the I-45  feeder road as a direct access be built at the interchange.

No answer has been received from highway department headquarters. . . .

Construction of the main lanes of the Beltway have been turned over to the Texas Tollroad Authority. The roads currently considered the beltway by motorists are actually feeder roads for main beltway lanes to be constructed in the future.

Access Improves Into Almeda Mall

Although the construction conglomeration enveloping Almeda Mall and the I-45 and Almeda-Genoa interchange looks impassable, management at the mall says access to and from the mall is easier than ever before.

With the installation of the traffic light at Almeda-Genoa and the freeway exit road, just west of the bridge, traffic not has controlled access to the mall. 

Previously, traffic travelling west over the Almeda Mall bridge played a version of traffic Russian roulette when attempting to turn left toward the mall. 

Since construction of the Almeda-Genoa I-45 interchange instituted the removal of the southbound I-45 feeder road, traffic approaching the mall from southbound I-45 had to leave the feeder at the Almeda Genoa exit. 

With the traffic light in place, the flow of traffic from the feeder and off the bridge has been improved so getting in and out of the mall parking lots is less time consuming and never wracking than preconstruction days. 

The mall is doing well despite what appears to be a traffic problems with the construction. Sales are up across the center and getting in and out of the mall is actually easier than ever before," said mall spokeswoman Cynthia Harvey.I-45 from College south to just past Scarsdale. Plans call for widening the Gulf Freeway and adding a bus lane. At Almeda-Genoa, the highway department will reverse the locations of the street and the Freeway.

When the project is completed at the section, the Gulf Freeway will be elevated and Almeda-Genoa, Kleckley, and Frey will be interwoven into a 10-lane interchange under the expressway. 

Meanwhile, on Fuqua and Beamer . . . 9 months of hell

Pipeline Project Fractures Fuqua

Like someone pouring sale into a bullet wound, businesses along Fuqua from Beamer east to I-45, as well as motorists travelling the same road, got another dose of tough news. Installation of the 96-inch waterline began Feb. 27 and Fuqua was squeezed into one lane each directions from near I-45 west to C&D Burger Shoppe.

Many drivers received the news when they realized the short bottleneck they had grown almost tolerant of, from Whataburger to the Gulf Freeway, had been lengthened by Houston traffic officials and LEM Construction Company workers.

LEM was awarded the $7 million contract for installing the waterline in 1985. The line is the main westward artery from the new southeast water treatment plant. According to LEM Vice President Jim Cox, if the weather holds out and the project runs smoothly the completion dates hits the calendar on Sept. 15 of this year.

Cox said the project would be an open trench situation from 600 feet east of Beamer running easterly 2,200 feet. At that point the trench joins the tunnel carrying the line under I-45. Cox said tunneling would be used at the intersection of Fuqua and Beamer so traffic would not be interrupted.

However, traffic travelling either direction on Fuqua will not be allowed to turn left at Sabo. South Belt residents using the intersection are urged to find an alternate route.

"Every time a road project i started especially one involving a major street people quickly become concerned. We don't blame them. This is a city project that has been on the boards for a long time. We're just the contractors following city specifications.

We want to get into the project as quickly as possible and finish as quickly as we can. We don't want to create hardships but sometimes it works out that way. When as many different projects under as many different entities on on in one area somebody gets hit hard," said Cox.

Cox said five different areas will be let open for access to businesses and parking lots to the north of th project. "I know people are tired of being patient, but they will have to be patient some more," said Cox.

Work continues on the Texas Highway Department's Fuqua bridge project at I-45 on schedule for the revised completion date of April, according to project supervisor Leon Smith.

South Belt areas residents struggling to maintain sanity while negotiating the Fuqua construction gauntlet can get ready to shift their frustrations to Beamer Road by the end of summer. 

Houston's Department of Public Works began April 17 advertising for bids for an estimated $2 million contract for constructing a 36-inch waterline down Beamer from just south of Fuqua to Scarsdale. 

Public Works official Jack Gilliam said the project consisted of running a 36-inch waterline from the Southeast Water Treatment Plant east of Ellington Field. The new line is to provide a waterline service to this section of the city including Dobie High School and Memorial Southeast Hospital. 

The line may also be used for hookup for those areas of South Belt currently on ground water.

Local utility districts have until 1990 to quit using water wells and make accommodations for receiving water from surface water entities. M.U.D. 13, Southbend, Kirkmont and Sagemeadow are the area utility districts using wells.

Work on the project should being by August, according to Gilliam. At least one lane of Beamer, closest to the median, will have to closed for the duration of the project. Gilliam said the project engineers would decide which lane, northbound or southbound would be closed at a later date.

Gilliam said the two projects were schedules independent of each other although they were designed under the same scheme. He said since the Fuqua project was scheduled to be finished by September he did not anticipate any more traffic problems generally associated with waterline construction to occur.

According to Gilliam, the project cannot use the median because it is a flood control district easement. "We'll lay in as close to the easement as possible. Some of the work will be underground boring and some will be open cuts. We hope people will cooperate with the inconvenience," said Gilliam.

If the utility districts ope to purchase water from Houston, using the Beamer Road waterline, residents can expect an estimated increase in their water bill of $12 per month per household. At this time, none of the utility districts has entered into an agreement with Houston.

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