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Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas
President & CEO
1900 Main Street
Inner Katy Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Busway
Interstate Highway (IH) 10 West (Katy Freeway)
IH 610 (West Loop) to Katy Freeway-Downtown Connector two-way ramp approximately 5.27 miles
The Katy Freeway corridor between Uptown and Downtown is a vital east-west connection that directs traffic from the west and northwest areas of Harris County to Downtown. The Inner Katy segment of the Katy Freeway, from IH 610 (West Loop) to Downtown is one of the most congested roadway segments in the region. This is largely due to the fact that the Inner Katy segment carries approximately 247,000 vehicles during the peak hours; there also exists a gap in the current two-way high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) network along this portion of the Katy Freeway.
The absence of High Capacity Transit (HCT) infrastructure in this corridor has severe impacts on the transit connections that currently utilize this corridor contributing to travel delays and unreliable schedule adherence. This corridor carries over 30,000 commuters per day during peak hours; Regional Express routes (Park & Rides) that use this corridor provide key connections between the highest concentrations of employment in the Houston region, including Downtown, Uptown, and the business centers along Allen Parkway as well as densifying employment centers along the US 290 corridor. These routes also provide vital transit connections for the fast growing suburban communities in the outer west, west and northwest parts of METRO’s service areas. The Uptown BRT project is a critical regional partnership investment - a joint project currently under construction by Uptown Houston Management District, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and METRO whereby this project will provide a fast, reliable one-seat ride from Uptown to Downtown.
A major regional node in METRO’s system, currently undergoing a major infrastructure upgrade, the Northwest Transit Center (NWTC), also relies heavily on the Inner Katy corridor for key transfers and connections. Currently, the average peak period travel time from the North West Transit Center (NWTC) to the Downtown is over 14 minutes, an average speed of 22 mph.
In addition, the terminus of the High-Speed Rail (HSR) connection between Dallas and Houston, is proposed to be located at the Northwest Mall, just north of METRO’s NWTC. A fast and reliable HCT connection in the Inner Katy corridor is vital in the corridor to address demand for onward connections and transfers from HSR to Uptown, Downtown, TMC, the Energy Corridor and other employment centers.
The Inner Katy Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Busway project proposes a High Capacity Transit improvement from IH 610 (West Loop) to the Katy Freeway HOV Lane Downtown Connector two-way ramp. This dedicated busway, which is grade-separated for a certain portion would be utilized by multiple transit modes – specifically a BRT route providing a fast, reliable one-seat ride connecting Uptown/Galleria and Downtown; Regional Express Network (Park & Ride) routes from IH-10, and US 290 to Downtown, and connecting the HSR terminus to various regional employment centers. In addition, this improvement allows High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) to use this proposed facility.
METRO proposes to extend the Inner Katy BRT and Busway from the Managed Lanes at approximately Silber Road to the Downtown Connector two-way ramp from the NWTC, approximately 1.4 miles, allowing through Express Bus and HOV traffic to bypass the Northwest Transit Center (NWTC) to continue Downtown. The Inner Katy BRT and Busway would continue at-grade for another 2.18 miles before elevating and changing alignment from the middle of the freeway to the landscaped area between the main lanes and the frontage road along the southerly side of the Katy Freeway.
The elevated segment is approximately 1.95 miles long. Two BRT stops would be included: one at Shepherd/Durham and another at Studemont Street (See Figures 1 and 2 in 8. Additional Project Development). A transit center would be connected to the Shepherd/Durham station, requiring additional right-of-way (ROW).
The new BRT service along Inner Katy, will provide a one-seat ride from Uptown/ Galleria to Downtown. This leverages a critical regional partnership investment, the Uptown BRT, a joint project currently under construction by Uptown Houston Management District, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and METRO. The new BRT project will use the dedicated busway on Post Oak Boulevard and elevated bus lanes in Loop 610, connecting to the NWTC, and then use the Inner Katy BRT Busway to connect to Downtown. The project would benefit BRT riders between Downtown and Uptown by bypassing the general-purpose traffic and providing connections to crossing bus routes in the Inner Katy at two proposed stations. The two proposed BRT stations at Shepherd/Durham and another at Studemont Street provides critical north-south system level connectivity as well as strategic connections to the bikeway lanes under design by the City of Houston to connect to the Buffalo Bayou Trail and the White Oak Bayou Trail systems – key bikeway spines for Houston (Figure 3).
Additional modes that utilize this busway are all Regional Express (Park & Ride) commuter routes from the IH 10 West corridor, and the US 290 corridor. The commuter routes would utilize the dedicated busway, to connect to Downtown. By-pass lanes would be included at the BRT stations to allow Regional Express Network buses to skip the BRT stops. HOV will travel through this new infrastructure as well.
The project would fill the gap between the existing east and west HOV facilities. Serving one of the highest activity dense corridors in the region with neighborhoods that are redeveloping and increasing density with infill projects. This project will introduce BRT service connecting downtown and Uptown; two of Houston’s largest activity centers. It will connect with existing HCT in each of these areas.
The busway will be used for BRT, Regional Express Bus, and HOV traffic. Closing this gap would enable the travelers to average up to 54 mph in exclusive lanes without the delay of operating in mixed traffic. The travel time from the NWTC to the Downtown with the busway would be approximately 6 minutes, an average daily savings of over eight minutes per day (57 percent). The savings for the total trips in the corridor amounts to over 265,123 minutes a day, or over 4,419 hours a day.
Combined with the existing managed lanes on the Katy Freeway, this project creates a continuous bi-directional facility for Regional Express buses between downtown and east of SH 99/Grand Parkway, providing for fast and reliable commuter and all-day service. The continuous busway would also provide a rapid transit connection from Uptown and Downtown to the planned High Speed Rail terminus at the junction of US 290 and IH 610 West via the NWTC.
The busway would make transit service more attractive and would attract more than 8,800 new users per day in 2024 and producing up to $868,633.00 in benefits according to the Benefit-Cost Analysis conducted in the attached calculations.
The project also provides connections to key bikeways in the corridor. The proposed stations at the NWTC, Shepherd/Durham, and Studemont are immediately adjacent to bikeways that connect to the White Oak Bayou trail system, the Missouri Kansas Texas (MKT) Trail, and ultimately the Memorial Park and Buffalo Bayou trail system (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Connections from the Shepherd-Durham and Studemont BRT Stations to the Houston Bikeways
(See Attachment in 8. Additional Project Development)
The proposed busway would be elevated between the Shepherd/Durham Station and the Central Business District (CBD) Connector, which provides a direct elevated connection into Downtown. Portions of the Katy Freeway are depressed and have been known to flood in major storm events. The elevated portion of the busway could provide connections to surface streets at the stations, which are elevated above the street grade and above flood level.
More than $100 million
View Uploaded File: Funding Commitment Letter & Letters of Support 10.31.18.pdf
Categorical Exclusion (CE)
Nine parcels (1.33 acres)
View Uploaded File: 1. Inner Katy Pre-Application_10.30.2018_FINAL - Interagency Consultation.docx
View Uploaded File: 1a Inner Katy Table 1 TIMELINE.pdf
Inner Katy high-capacity transit was included in the METRO Solutions Transit plan approved by referendum in 2003. METRO has studied the corridor and consulted with TxDOT since the adoption of the METRO Solutions Plan to explore feasible options to introduce high-capacity transit in the corridor. In September 2017, the METRO Board was presented with a variety of options to connect the CBD and NWTC with BRT and HOV lane options (see attachments 1e and 1f).
Alternatives considered include light rail options along the northern edge of the Katy Freeway ROW and along parallel streets like Washington Avenue and Memorial Drive. These options were eliminated based on cost and traffic impacts.
Diamond lanes in the center of the Katy Freeway were also examined; however, access to the stations and transit center was not possible with that configuration.
The METRONext Regional Transit Plan identifies the Inner Katy corridor as a critical link in the high capacity transit network and will include it in the financially constrained Forward Plan. This project is the culmination of these efforts to provide a high capacity transit in the corridor.
View Uploaded File: Attachments 1c - 1g (Figures & Graphics).pdf
View Uploaded File: 1h Inner Katy MAP.pdf
View Uploaded File: 1b Inner Katy BUDGET.xlsx
View Uploaded File: 2b and 3 Inner Katy BCA Files.zip
View Uploaded File: BCA Placeholder - see #1 Safety Benefits for BCA information.xlsx
View Uploaded File:
See attached BCA in #1 Safety Benefits for methodology.
The project would fill the gap between the existing east and west HOV facilities. Serving one of the highest activity dense corridors in the region with neighborhoods that are redeveloping and increasing density with infill projects.
The new facility will be reserved for BRT, Express Bus, and HOV traffic. Closing this gap would enable the travelers to average up to 54 mph in exclusive lanes without the delay of operating in mixed traffic. The travel time from the Northwest Transit Center (NWTC) to Downtown with the busway would be approximately six minutes down from the current 14 minutes, an average daily savings of over eight minutes per day (57 percent). Combined with total trips in the corridor that amounts to over 265,123 minutes a day, or over 4,419 hours a day.
Combined with the existing managed lanes on the IH 10 (Katy Freeway), this project creates a continuous bi-directional busway for Regional Express buses between downtown and east of SH 99/Grand Parkway, providing for fast and reliable commuter and all-day service. The continuous HOV lanes would also provide a rapid transit connection from Uptown and Downtown to the planned High Speed Rail terminus at the junction of US 290 and IH 610 West via the NWTC.
The busway would make transit service more attractive and would attract more than 8,800 new riders per day in 2024 and producing up to $868,633.00 in benefits according to the Benefit-Cost Analysis conducted in the attached calculations.
The project also provides connections to key bikeways in the corridor. The proposed BRT stations at the NWTC, Shepherd/Durham, and Studemont are immediately adjacent to bikeways that connect to the White Oak Bayou trail system, the Missouri Kansas Texas (MKT) Trail, and ultimately the Memorial Park and Buffalo Bayou trail system.
View Uploaded File: 2b Inner Katy lottr-estimation-template_Final.xlsx
The proposed busway improves transit access between two of the largest employment centers in the region. It also enhances connectivity for transit riders and commuters on the west and northwest side of Houston which cycle through the NWTC on their way to the CBD. The southwest area of Houston would also benefit through connections on the Uptown BRT. Southwest Freeway (IH 69/US 59) commuter buses would stop at the Uptown Transit Center (UTC) allowing patrons to transfer to the Uptown BRT and make their way to the NWTC.
In addition to the CBD and Uptown, service to the Energy Corridor would also be enhanced. Improved transit service to the NWTC from the Inner Katy corridor could encourage reverse commutes: outbound on Katy Freeway in the morning and inbound in the evening.
Using the Estimates of Job Creation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Estimates of Job Creation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Executive Office of the President, Council of Economic Advisors, May 2009;
https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/dministration/eop/cea/Estimate-of-Job-Creation/) the project would create 2,673.4 job-years. A job-year is one year of work for one person. The calculation also includes direct, indirect, and induced jobs as described below.
• Direct jobs, which are the job-years created in the actual government-sponsored project.
• Indirect jobs, which are the job-years created at suppliers who make the materials used in the project.
• Induced jobs, which are the job-years created elsewhere in the economy as increases in income from the direct government spending lead to additional increases in spending by workers and firms (Estimates of Job Creation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Executive Office of the President, Council of Economic Advisors, May 2009,
Beyond construction, the project will create long-term employment opportunities because of the ongoing operating and maintenance (O&M) spending. The annual O&M cost (excluding contingency) for the bus lanes and stations would be approximately $487,000 (2017$) per year based on METRO’s current O&M costs for similar facilities. This translates to 4.6 job-years and a 30-year cumulative total of 139 job years.
The proposed Inner Katy busway will enhance mobility for travelers to Downtown and Uptown. HOV lanes from US 290 in the Northwest and Katy Freeway in the west connect to the NWTC at the junction of IH 10 and Loop 610. The NWTC is the central transit hub in West Houston and is in the final stage of design for expansion.
The expanded facility will have 20 bus bays for local and express routes, including the Park & Ride commuter routes. The NWTC will also serve the Uptown BRT currently under construction. A joint project by Uptown Houston Management District, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and METRO, the Uptown BRT will connect the NWTC to the Uptown Transit Center in the south via a dedicated busway in Post Oak Boulevard and elevated bus lanes in Loop 610 connecting to dedicated bus lanes on N. Post Oak Road that lead to a BRT station in the NWTC.
The busway would decrease travel time for commuters from the West and Northwest corridors by shaving up to eight minutes off their trips. The project would also benefit BRT riders to and from Uptown by bypassing the general-purpose traffic and providing connections to crossing bus routes in the Inner Katy at two proposed BRT stations. The travel time savings for BRT service would not be as great as the savings for commuter service, which would not stop, but would still reduce overall travel time between the NWTC and Downtown.
The proposed Inner Katy busway would also expedite bus travel during emergency evacuation. The busway would provide a direct connection to Katy Freeway, and an indirect connection to US 290 via the NWTC, both of which are major evacuation corridors according to TxDOT and Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The proposed busway would be elevated between the Shepherd/Durham Station and the CBD Connector, which provides a direct elevated connection into Downtown. Portions of the Katy Freeway are depressed and have been known to flood in major storm events. The elevated portion of the busway could provide connections to surface streets at the stations, which are elevated above the street grade and above flood level.
The proposed project will remove up to 50 buses per hour during the peak period from the general-purpose lanes and provide an exclusive busway for BRT, buses, and commuters. This will provide slightly more capacity for SOVs but will not appreciably impact LOS. Transit LOS will greatly improve with exclusive lanes for commuter and BRT routes.
The busway would serve the BRT vehicles, as well as HOV traffic. Two BRT stations are proposed along the corridor at the Shepherd/Durham couplet and Studemont Street. The stations would provide connections to local transit service, as well as bikeways crossing the corridor. The stations would have bypass lanes to allow commuter traffic to skip the stop and continue without delays.
The proposed busway will be a METRO investment in a TxDOT facility. METRO has an FTA-approve Asset Management Plan that includes METRO owned and operated property and facilities, such as the METRORail lines, HOV lanes, transit centers, and Park & Rides. METRO is experienced with operating and maintaining transit facilities. The proposed facility would be treated the same as other METRO assets.
METRO also has a Transitways Master Operations and Maintenance Agreement with TxDOT that identifies the responsibility of each agency on the HOV/HOT lanes in the various corridors. Such an agreement would be put in place for the proposed busway to ensure the repair and maintenance and the operational safety of the facility would be clearly defined.
Houston-Galveston Area Council