WHAT'S DRIVING HOUSTON
Ask 2: Who is responsible when you hit a pothole and there’s damage to your car?
<i>At KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our </i><a href="https://www.click2houston.com/topic/ask_2/"><i>Ask 2 series</i></a><i>, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.</i>
Ask 2: Can anyone hire a crew to block traffic or direct traffic flow?
<b>Question: </b>Allison would like to know, “...as a driver am I required to follow the instructions of someone who is being paid to act for someone else’s benefit, and can anybody hire a trained person (officer or not) to direct traffic the way they would like?”
Monitoring the traffic trends 1 year after the pandemic
HOUSTON – Congestion in Houston is a good indicator of things going back to normal, more people going back to work and students returning to school. Though we’re not 100% back to pre-pandemic traffic congestion, we’re certainly getting close. Here’s a look a the numbers:Traffic VolumesTraffic VolumesIt’s worth noting, even though congestion is slowly making a comeback, a recent report says: fewer Houstonians are driving into work. In 2019 nearly 85% of workers drove into the office, compared to nearly 90% in 2010.
Ask 2: Is it illegal to block sidewalks while parked in your driveway?
As part of our Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston. Question: Is it illegal to block sidewalks while parked in your driveway? We checked with the Texas Transportation Code and it says it is illegal to park over a sidewalk. Officials will cite warnings for first-time offenses, but as a friendly reminder, we just ask that everybody be good neighbors and follow the law. If your car is parked in a City of Houston neighborhood driveway, and you’re blocking the sidewalk, according to ParkHouston, fines start at $40.
Push to lower speed limits in Houston neighborhoods could save lives
Research proves a small change in the speed limit could save thousands of lives. Houston’s Super Neighborhood Alliance and the Greater Houston Coalition for Complete Streets have teamed to help push two bills that would reduce the speed limit in residential neighborhoods. One is House Bill 442 sponsored by Texas House Representative Celia Israel, to lower the speed limit in residential areas to 25 mph in Texas cities. Ad“Someone in Houston dies in a crash every other day, and three people experience life-altering injuries every day,” said Handy. In fact, this week Killgore, Peterzen and Mayor Turner will have a virtual meeting about the effort in reducing the speed limit in Houston neighborhoods.
TxDOT moves ahead with I-45 expansion as objections continue
TxDOT announced a “record of decision” Thursday, a formality that moves the proposed expansion from the environmental phase to the design phase. “It’s sort of a pattern TxDOT has been taking, no pun intended, but our way or the highway,” Humphreys said. Along with housing displacement, public transportation advocates have called on the agency to provide better infrastructure to accommodate rapid-transit lanes, as opposed to single-occupancy vehicles. Ad“Public transit is a great choice for moving people a long way,” said Neal Ehardt, a representative from the group Stop TxDOT I-45. “So we need a project that allows regular pedestrian crossings.”For its part, TxDOT maintains it will continue to consider its critics.
‘Someone screwed up’: New signage along 290 has some drivers confused
The far-left outbound lane of 290 was now a high occupancy vehicle lane from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., Monday through Friday. So the times described appear as incorrect.”KPRC 2 contacted TxDOT and the spokesperson who oversees the 290 project said the signage is correct. “The HOV signage is correct. KPRC 2 asked our viewers on Facebook if they’ve seen the HOV signs on 290. “I’m in the Jersey Village area and I had to stop taking the HOV lane ... it’s confusing,” he said.
Upper Kirby, Montrose, River Oaks: Major construction delays coming March
HOUSTON – The project focused on improving Shepherd Drive has been in the works a while and is actually part of all the work happening in the Upper Kirby District, aimed to revamp its major thoroughfares. If you’re wondering what Shepherd Drive will look like, just turn your attention to Westheimer Road, Kirby Drive, Bissonnet, and Eastside streets. These are a few of the completed projects in the Upper Kirby District. This work is happening on the edge of the Upper Kirby/Greenway Plaza area, but drivers in the Montrose and River Oaks area will also be affected because traffic will shift to those areas too. According to the Upper Kirby District Management team, consider streets like Greenbriar or Eastside Street as a potential alternate route.
Houston Bike Lanes: Nearly 1,800 miles of high-comfort bikeways planned for Houston
HOUSTON – Right now, there are a total of 340 miles of high comfort bike lanes, meaning all ages and abilities can safely use these bike lanes and 22 miles of those are on-street protected bike-only lanes. In 2020, Houston bikeways completed four new miles of on street bike lanes. If you didn’t know, there are high comfort bike lanes that are safe enough a 10-year-old can ride on the bike lane. Then, there’s protected on-street bike lanes: There’s a buffer between the bike-only lane and the vehicles on the street. The City of Houston sprawls over 637 square miles and according to Bike Houston.
Kuykendahl Road widening project underway. Here’s what you can expect
SPRING, Texas – The road widening construction has started this month on Kuykendahl Road. The construction contractor, WadeCon LLC, began the construction after the project was approved for funding from the 2015 road bond by voters. The bid amount for the project construction was $3,566,246 and it is a 1 -year contract, according to a news release. The project will complete a four-lane boulevard from Lake Woodlands Drive to Research Forest Drive. - The two existing lanes will become the southbound lanes once construction is completed.
Ask 2: Who has the right-of-way at a four-way traffic stop?
As part of our new Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston. Question: Who has the right-of-way at a four-way traffic stop? Signaling is very important in order to avoid crashes at a four-way stop. Also, think about this, if two cars arrive at the same time across from each other and both are planning to turn, who goes first? Another scenario involves a yellow blinking light at a four-way intersection, the same scenario, two cars arrive across from each other at the same time, who goes first?
Leaders voice concerns over I-45 expansion project in letters to TxDOT
A public comment period for North Houston Highway Improvement Project’s Final Environmental Impact Study, or FEIS, expires Wednesday. The deadline prompted multiple government agencies from the city of Houston and Harris County to issue letters to TxDOT, which oversees the project. About the projectThe North Houston Highway Improvement Project aims to clear congestion along the I-45 corridor in downtown Houston by widening the freeway through Houston’s north side. The I-45 expansion project would be conducted in three phases: Beltway 8 North to Interstate 610, I-610 to I-10, and the downtown loop. Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack and Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle opposed the letter.
Self-driving cars: What does this technology look like for Texans?
HOUSTON – Self-driving cars, sounds pretty cool right? Yes, great strides are being made to make this technology come to life, including at the national level. Right now--the only automated vehicle technology available to all drivers across the board is level 2 --which includes lane assist and pedestrian detection. Will automated vehicle technology be safe? Automated vehicle technology won’t be available to the average driver until another 30 to 50 years.
Southmore Bridge re-opens to traffic
Photos of the Southmore Boulevard Bridge that spans Highway 288 showed traffic was moving across it again Tuesday. The Southmore Bridge isn’t the only one causing traffic trouble for Third Ward residents. The Harris County Flood Control District has been working for more than a year on the Ardmore Street Bridge that connects North MacGregor and South MacGregor, about one mile east of the Southmore bridge. Unfortunately, the work performed on the bridge did not meet Harris County Flood Control District specifications during a routine inspection.”“We encountered some deficient items in the concrete bridge deck. Hayden said remedial repairs are now underway on the Ardmore bridge that could be complete before the end of the New Year.
Here are easy toll road mistakes that can cost you money
HOUSTON – Got a toll violation in the mail, even though you have an EZ tag? For EZ TAG customers:There are a few reasons customers may get violations, which can be readily easily resolved. A common reason customers get bills for unpaid tolls is because the customer’s new license plate number was not added to their EZ TAG account. For cash customers/drivers without an EZ TAG account:As of March 11, 2020, the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) implemented “hands-free” toll collection to reduce potential exposure of both drivers and employees to COVID -19. HCTRA encourages EZ TAG customers to manage their prefunded account 24/7 on hctra.org or download the mobile app.
Gulf Freeway relief just ahead for Galveston County drivers
TEXAS CITY, Texas – Interstate 45 and FM 1764 in Texas City is a headache to drive through right now. Much of the highway is closed off in the area and drivers must rely on other ways to get around. Here’s a look at what exactly is being done and when drivers will finally get to drive on the main lanes of the Gulf Freeway near Texas City.
Update on Highway 6 construction project: Bridge near Cy-Fair over Northwest Freeway
HOUSTON – The US 290 Corridor has experienced considerable growth. One of those biggest projects is the SH-6/FM-1960 bridge over U.S. 290. The Texas Department of Transportation says their latest estimate puts the completion of the bridge and open to traffic at the end of this year, December 2020. Drivers will still have to experience daily and nightly closures up until the completion of the bridge but will have minimal total closures. The new bridge will allow traffic to travel over Jackrabbit Road, the Union Pacific railroad tracks and of course U.S. 290 and ride straight into FM-1960.
How city planners are building safer streets around TSU, UH
HOUSTON – The Third Ward community near Texas Southern University and The University of Houston is covered in construction cones, but all for a good purpose. Intersections like Ennis and Cleburne are already starting to see improvements like wider sidewalks, which is a relief for walkers and bikers in the area. Last year, Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis pledged to invest $30 million to reconstruct Cullen and other streets in the UH-TSU corridor. The project also includes drainage improvements to help reduce street flooding during heavy rain events as well as lighting and landscaping features. Ellis, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and University of Houston President Renu Khator broke ground on the $19 million second phase of the Cullen Boulevard construction project Thursday.
Got an EZ TAG? Here are the toll fee changes you want to be aware of
HOUSTON – Question : What are the changes EZ TAG customers will see in terms of fees? Answer : The Harris County Toll Road Authority has updated the EZ TAG Account holder agreement to provide a better customer service experience. Answer : Harris County has made it easier for drivers to obtain a pre-paid EZ TAG account, which is the most efficient way to pay tolls. EZ TAG account holders pay the lowest toll rate and may use their EZ TAG on toll roads throughout Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. Drivers can sign up at hctra.org or download the EZ TAG app.
Did you know October is Distracted Driving Awareness Month?
HOUSTON – October 1 marked the first day of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, serving as a reminder to drivers everywhere to put the phone down and just drive. To help with this, AAA suggests setting your phone on “do not disturb” while driving to avoid the temptation of looking at your notifications on the road. In Texas, 378 people died in more than 97,000 distracted driving crashes last year, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Josh Zuber with AAA says nearly eight people die and nearly 1,000 individuals are hurt every day in the U.S. due to distracted driving. In 2019, 22 people lost their lives in Harris County.
Houston Traffic Volumes: Is traffic back to normal since the pandemic started?
Houston Transtar estimates 10 to 15% lower, to be exact, area-wide when comparing August 2019 to 2020. However, weekday afternoon peak numbers are seeing an uptick. Houston Transtar even says volumes are pretty much in line with what we saw in 2019. This same stretch of roadway, Katy Freeway at Voss, afternoon volumes were only down 2% in the afternoon compared to last year. Overall, when it comes to vehicle traffic volumes, the impacts of the pandemic are still being felt.
Raising the bar of quality of life by improving Houston streets
HOUSTON – A plan that would go beyond just repairing potholes and extending the life of streets and making them last longer, that is Houston Mayor Silvester Turner’s goal. His new Street Rehabilitation program is designed to improve nearly 300 miles of Houston roadways by the end of this year, with a goal of eventually touching 100% of Houston streets in the time to come. Everyone who travels on City of Houston streets, whether they are driving, walking or biking should do so in a safe and equitable manner, according to Mayor Turner. -Public Works will conduct their research, analyzing streets in all 11 districts and will determine the condition and rideability. -they’ll be fixing street surfaces, fixing curbs, storm drains, sidewalks, and making ramps more accessible.
Say goodbye to toll stickers and hello to this easy-to-use app
HOUSTON – Texas drivers can now ditch those toll stickers on their windshields and opt-in on a new toll app to pay their fees. Uproad’s Andrew Peppard is based in Texas and to KPRC 2 about the benefits of this technology and how it can ease the stress of navigating toll roads. Subscribers who don’t already have a toll payment account will receive toll discounts, but there is a small membership fee to get this perk. There is also a 15% transaction fee every time a toll is paid. AdThe technology lets drivers manage their account all in one place, without the headaches associated with toll prices, mischarges or mailed toll bills.
Should drivers trust pedestrian detection systems built in their cars?
Data gathered by AAA shows there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure this type of technology can actually save lives. Zuber continues by saying research also shows that this driver assistance technology disengaged with little notice to the driver. “These are not meant to be automated vehicles, and these advance driver assistance systems are not 100% reliable,” Zuber said. Most eye-opening of all, AAA’s research shows pedestrian detection systems are also not to be trusted because the emergency braking systems perform inconsistently. “Those pedestrian detection systems are not very reliable.
SH-249 Expansion: A faster route to get to Aggieland is on the way
HOUSTON – A new section of the SH-249 project opened in early August in one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation. This new stretch of concrete is a very important piece of the SH-249 expansion project as it helps lead construction into the Todd Mission area, just west of Magnolia. Section 1a of the SH-249 project is 6.4 miles long, with two lanes traveling in each direction. “The State Highway 249 expansion will be a great future new highway alternative route for Aggies traveling to and from Houston. TXDOT invested just shy of $800 million on the SH-249 expansion project.
Here’s why officials say you should stick to observing school zone laws despite online classes
Stephen Woodard, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, agrees that those school zone driving habits should still be observed. He said officers will still be out patrolling near school zones. Their job is to keep school zones safe and they say your job as a driver is to respect the school zone rules, with or without students in a building and during or outside regular school times. So yes, officers will be onsite monitoring school zones even if there aren’t students inside a school building. The ticket for texting in a school zone is $200 where signs are posted.
How to join the KPRC 2 traffic team on Waze
KPRC 2 and Waze have teamed up to help you navigate the tricky traffic in Houston. Heres how you can join our team:Download the free Waze app from your app store. Scroll down and tap Teams. Select KPRC 2 from the list. Joining the team lets you report a trouble spot to KPRC 2 traffic expert Anavid Reyes. Then, she might use your report to help inform other drivers about the problem.
Tired of SH 288 construction? Heres an update
The completion of the direct connectors at Interstate 610 and SH 288 is a major upgrade and project milestone. Additionally, the direct connectors at Beltway 8 and SH 288 have been completed. Any there any future major construction shutdowns to be expected along SH 288 to help crews conduct their work? There will continue to be lane closures along SH 288 as we near completion. Drivers can anticipate an easier commute from the south portion of SH 288 to the north portion of the highway and vice versa.
ASK2: Have we seen more auto-pedestrian crashes recently?
HOUSTON At KPRC 2, were dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our new Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston. Question: Have we seen more auto-pedestrian crashes recently? Answer: The question comes as we are noticing more and more residents choose cycling or walking as their preferred mode of transportation during the pandemic. According to the Harris County Sheriffs Office, during the months of March, April, May and June in 2019, there were more crashes involving automobiles and pedestrians reported compared to the same time this year.
Mini traffic units working to slash number of street racers in Harris County
HOUSTON – The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is taking community policing to a new level after recent data revealed Harris County has some of the deadliest roadways in the nation. To address it, they’ve created so-called “mini traffic units” in each of the office’s five districts. These district traffic enforcement units kicked off in May in east Harris County. The East District 3 patrol was the first to get the task implemented and running. The power shift will also work on resident- and business-based complainants, speeders in neighborhoods, racing vehicles and 18-wheelers and dump truck parking.
When will construction be finished on Westheimer?
HOUSTON Westheimer Road is operating at normal speeds during the day as the paving operations are complete. However, there is some work to complete such as median repair, finishing the loops for the signal lights and some final striping. Crews have been working 24 hours a day to get the work done, covering Westheimer Road from the West Loop to Dairy Ashford. They started with repaving the area between the West Loop and Fountain View and continued working their way west until reaching Dairy Ashford. The Texas Department of Transportation tells me theyve finished all left-turn lanes on this major corridor except one.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected traffic in Houston?
Recently released data showed where things stood in Houston at the height of the stay-home orders. The downward trend began in Houston around mid-March with traffic hitting its lowest point around April 5th. Across the country, traffic is up close to 60% since April 13, which was the low point for traffic nationwide. Chart created by Ivana Escobar (Chart created by Ivana Escobar)The chart below shows how traffic changed in each county from March to mid-May when compared to January. Chart created by Ivana EscobarThe chart below shows a weekly average of traffic for March, April and May when compared to January.
I-45 Expansion Project: Whats the latest?
HOUSTON The proposed I-45 expansion project is set to solve Houstons biggest congestion problems from the Southwest Freeway up to the North Beltway, with work broken down into three segments. This project has proven to be controversial as the Texas Department of Transportation plans to expand a vital part of I-45. The North Freeway expansion promises a smoother commute and green space which is often referred to as the Central Park of Houston.This part of the project is Segment three, located near Minute Maid Park. Segment two the section in between those areas improving the North Freeway from Interstate 10 up to the North Loop. north freeway expansion projectThe project plan seems to excite some Houstonians, but others say these improvements will come at a cost much higher than the estimated $7 billion.
METRO is adding this new safety feature to protect drivers and riders against COVID-19
METRO continues to add safety measures to protect drivers and riders against COVID-19 and those service updates are to start June 1. Currently, METRO is encouraging riders and drivers to use face coverings and they’ve increased cleaning. Furthermore, they will be installing plastic enclosures for operators on vehicles which serve METROLift customers. The plastic coverings will also be installed in the yellow METROLift taxi cabs. As a reminder, METRO continues to encourage riders to use public transit for only essential trips.
METRO Park & Ride service gradually resumes Monday
Published: May 15, 2020, 9:02 am Updated: May 18, 2020, 11:19 amHOUSTON – According to the Metro Transit Authority of Harris County, their Park & Ride service will gradually resume Monday, May 18. Now, the service will operate on a limited schedule on select Park & Ride routes connecting riders traveling along all major freeway corridors to downtown. Park and Ride routes serving the Texas Medical Center will continue operating on a regular weekday schedule. Park & Ride - Downtown DestinationsService will operate from 5- 9 a.m. for inbound trips and from 3- 7 p.m. for outbound trips. 291 Conroe Park & Ride will only run 6:30 a.m. inbound and 4:30 p.m. outbound trips.
Get2Know KPRC 2 News Today traffic expert Anavid Reyes | HOUSTON LIFE | KPRC 2
Get2Know KPRC 2 News Today traffic expert Anavid Reyes | HOUSTON LIFE | KPRC 2Published: May 13, 2020, 2:32 pmTraffic expert and What's Driving Houston reporter, Anavid Reyes helps us navigate our morning commute as part of the KPRC 2 News Today team. The Houstonian spoke to Houston Life about her professional and personal life to get to know her a little better.
How is Buc-ee’s stopping the spread of COVID-19 at their pumps?
HOUSTON – Buc-ee’s is well known for its award-winning cleanliness, but is this model enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 at their pumps? Drivers stop at a gas station to get gas, resulting in hundreds of thousands of hands and fingers touching these gas pumps and card readers. Buc-ee’s spokesperson Jeff Nadalo said Buc-ee’s has been exercising sanitation practices for decades. “In response to COVID-19, Buc-ee’s has enhanced its award-winning cleanliness and sanitation protocols by increasing the frequency of cleaning and adding a special sanitizing solution,” said Nadalo. He said Buc-ee’s even makes its own sanitizing solution so the company is not having any issues or shortages.