12 Mar General Membership Meeting featuring TxDOT
General Membership Meeting featuring TxDOT at the HESS Club, February 28, 2019.
McKenzie Lamb, Partner, Trainer with Camp Gladiator, kicked off the meeting by asking the audience to do a pump-up. McKenzie got everyone moving with 5 mini squats and two high fives to each other thanking them for attending the meeting. McKenzie also challenged the room to join her Fitness Challenge. (Fitness Challenge Flyer)
Peggy Wilson, President, CEO displayed original Meeting Minutes from the Chamber’s archives dated back to August 12, 1949 and announced that the Houston Metropolitan Chamber has been serving the community for 70 years and will be celebrating their anniversary. Updates to follow.
Danny Perez, Public Information Office for TxDOT took the floor and introduced Frank Leong, Project Engineer, who gave an overview of the Hwy. 59/610 West Loop Interchange Project and the impact it will have on the Galleria and surrounding area. Frank Leong stated the Interchange of Hwy 59 & 610 West Loop is the No. 1 worst choke point for the entire state of Texas. In 1968, when the main lanes of the West Loop were opened, its peak traffic was 96,000 vehicles per day. In 1971, a year after the Galleria opened, it was just over 146,000. Today, according to TxDOT, the interchange being reconstructed handles about 500,000 vehicles per day routinely. (Project Presentation link))
The Interchange Project as it is called TxDOT will be touching every part of the interchange, stated Frank Leong, the interchange refers to every way the two freeways connect with each other. There are eight of these connectors. All but one will be enlarged from one lane to two. The one ramp not enlarged – 59 southbound to 610 northbound – will still be reconstructed and improved. There’s just not enough space to widen this ramp to two lanes. The bridge where 610 crosses over 59 will also be adjusted, to allow room for the new connectors, and it will be given shoulders for safety.
The construction company, Williams Brothers, will be working seven-day workweeks, with closures planned at night and during weekends. TxDOT will be using new “smart work zone” technology. This is movable signage, placed before where traffic will snarl, that will be connected to sensors monitoring traffic conditions to give drivers real-time information about road conditions. This is a key warning system about speed, congestion and back-ups that can let drivers know what’s going on over the next overpass.
Danny Perez stressed to attendees that ‘Know Before You Go’ was going to be a new habit Houstonians need to learn. That means checking traffic, closures, detours before reaching for your car keys. He shared several resources with attendees on how to access information for better planning and safer driving.
Helen Callier, President of Permit Us Now an Expediting and Consulting Company, moderated the Question and Answer session asking the TxDOT team several questions regarding access to businesses in the Galleria and surrounding area- emphasizing support for small business. Helen shared with attendees the importance of preparing their businesses for the forecasted interruption. Accessibility will be compromised for many of the businesses in the area. Helen stressed the important of planning long term since the project is expected to last 4-5 years. She also stressed that even with all the forecasted obstacles, there was still opportunity and reward for creativity and ingenuity.
The Houston Metropolitan Chamber will provide update information and resources to the community during the Interchange Construction process.