Thursday, July 28, 2011

Holleman Drive: A History

Currently updating as part of a site revamp.

Before 1940: As far as we know, this was an unnamed county road (it probably had a number) going from Highway 6 (Wellborn Road) to S. Holik Farm (the border of which is now Glade) (internal link)
1949: "The Knoll" planned out, and built by 1955.
1960s: County Road renamed to Holleman.
1970s: The road builds an extension from Winding Road (where it had previously curved into), re-routing west from its straight-away connection, and going to the modern day Texas Avenue, as well as a little bit past modern-day Lassie.
1972: Pooh's Park opens on the north-of-Texas-Avenue side (source: clipping)
Late 1970s: Tinley's Chicken 'n Rolls opens near Pooh's Park (though their website mentions a 1968 Tinsley's opening?)
Late 1970s or early 1980s: Holleman Drive West opens (likely opened under a different name, though I can't confirm or deny that) and builds its first duplexes along the road. Meanwhile, "Sutton Place" builds off the bypass with several residential lots facing south. None are developed. This why Holleman bends a little toward the highway, it's the old Sutton Place road.
Late 1982/early 1983: Holleman extends to the new bypass to provide access to Post Oak Mall. As a whole, this section is Holleman Drive East (and does not have striping)
Mid 1980s to Late 1980s: Holleman Drive West crosses the railroad (ultimately resulting in the closure of the Luther Street crossing)
1990s: A shopping center (Plantation Shopping Center) builds at the corner of Holleman and Texas Avenue in the early 1990s. Over the years, this would include H-E-B Pantry, then Target, then Hastings (circa 1997), then finally Old Navy (circa 1999)
March 2002: H-E-B opens at the corner of Texas Avenue and Holleman. The new store is much bigger than the Pantry it replaced. The old Pantry is replaced by Gattitown a few years later.
1996: A stoplight is funded for Anderson and Holleman. [source]
Late 1990s: A four way stop is built at Welsh and Holleman, near the Checkers gas station. The eastbound Holleman stop sign is affixed to a metal power pole.
Early 2000s: The Glade stoplight opened. This replaced a four-way blinking light, suspended by four wires, creating an "X" over the intersection. I kind of miss it. Also, in this era (though a few years later) was the Dartmouth stoplight (replaced stop signs) though the area continued to be undeveloped for several years.
November 2004: A road opens from North Dowling Road to Rock Prairie Road W., incorporating part of Abbate. This is called "Jones-Butler Road", in anticipation that it would connect to the Jones-Butler on Holleman.
December 2004: A gas station opens at Harvey Mitchell and Holleman, featuring Rattler's convenience store and Wendy's, as well as a dry cleaners. Subway comes later.
2005: At about this time, Lincoln Center adds on a new addition.
2006: Previously, in the "main stretch" of Holleman, there were four lanes (no left hand turns) from Wellborn to Eleanor (the rest was two lanes with a turn lane and shoulders). In 2006, this is reduced to the four lanes stopping at Oney Hervey. This allows better left-hand turns into Arizona and Oney Hervey. Also, Marion Pugh extends to Holleman.
2007: Holleman opens a stoplight at Harvey Mitchell.
2008: A right-turn yield lane to Harvey Mitchell is added.
2008-2009: At about this time, a four-way stop sign is added near the Lincoln Center. Also, the Lofts at Wolf Pen Creek open, featuring Red Mango, Honeybaked Ham & Deli, and Tutta Pasta. Within a few years, all of these but Red Mango are closed.
Late Summer 2010: Jones-Butler (between North Dowling and Rock Prairie) renames to Holleman Drive South (as well as I-GN between Rock Prairie and North Graham), as Holleman prepares to extend. Around this time, Saddle extends to Holleman.
Spring 2011: Holleman finally finishes its extension to North Dowling. It's four lanes and concrete. The section between North Dowling and Saddle closes for reconstruction.
Summer 2011: The reconstructed area opens, creating a solid Holleman Drive that goes from the mall to North Graham Road. The Cottages of College Station begins construction.
Spring 2012: Deacon Drive builds a small stub off of Holleman Drive South but goes nowhere. It is a nice two lanes + turn lane + bike lanes + sidewalk concrete road with eventual connections into the Barracks. There is a turn lane on Holleman in this area. Despite the speed limit temporarily lowered to 45 MPH during construction, it goes back up to 60 MPH soon after.
Fall 2012: Maroon U opens in the old CC Creations spot.

Originally a small stub extending from the "West Loop" with a few duplexes on it, Holleman expanded with the Woodway duplex subdivision and Woodway Park, with the connection to Holleman completed in late 1985.

Originally, as a result from the abandonment of the I&GN railroad, there were two generally unimproved roads: "I&GN Road", which stretched from Straub to Gandy (it curved east to Gandy), and another unnamed road (which had the tar-and-gravel mix in the 1990s at least) from FM 2818 (it wasn't Harvey Mitchell Parkway at the time) to North Dowling Road. In the late 1990s, this unnamed stretch was renamed as Marion Pugh in preparation to connect to the Marion Pugh segment north of Holleman. However, plans changed (partially because some of the ROW was already bought), and when a new, paved and flattened (at 60 MPH) road that opened in November 2004, Jones-Butler Road, Marion Pugh was soon renamed to Jones-Butler Road after being repaved. The new Jones-Butler Road (with a full four-way stop at North Dowling within less than a year) connected North Dowling Road to Rock Prairie Road. Frustratingly, not too long after Jones-Butler opened, the entire intersection was closed due to culvert installation, forcing cars all the way down to Cain or Rock Prairie, and the construction left a bumpy patch where it had been nicely done less than a year prior.

As the years went on, another segment of Jones-Butler opened, this time connecting Harvey Mitchell Parkway up to where Jones-Butler terminated at Harvey Mitchell Parkway, a right-in-right-out thing. This was originally supposed to go under 2818 when they built the overpass, but TxDOT didn't want to do a longer viaduct and ended up justing cutting it off, so a third plan was formulated. This time, Holleman would curve into the existing Jones-Butler, but due to some land swap issues, wasn't even started until after the FM 2818 overpass project had been completed, forcing the old Jones-Butler segment north of 2818 to be dead-ended, and the south part to be right-in-right-out. North Dowling Road at Harvey Mitchell was also closed.

In 2010, the segment north of Dowling was "de-named" (now just a detour route) with Holleman Drive South being the name adopted for the road between North Graham and North Dowling (part of I&GN had been improved around 2005). Saddle Lane was also extended and repaved in preparation for the detour. In 2011, soon before the overpass completely finished up, Holleman Drive South opened, with many stubs (red barricades with "Road Closed" signs, these were taken down when the Cottages of College Station began construction). Phase One of the detour involved the former Jones-Butler being cut off at Saddle with cars forced to abruptly make a left turn and wind through Quail Run. By 2011, all this was sorted out, though a few things changed: the fall 2012 of the Cottages of College Station (lots of traffic) and the slight, cheap expansion of Holleman at Deacon Drive West in Spring 2012.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Greatest Freeway That Never Was

Formerly "North/South Corridors 1996", which was then modified to "North-South Corridors 1996"

You are in for a treat. Today, we're taking you back to 1996: the North/South Corridor plan (there's a better one from which I saw and make reference to now, but it's no longer at the College Station Library).

The first page is rather interesting, talking about Wellborn Road, "the proposed SH 40", FM 2818, and SH 47, which doesn't sound too terribly far fetched until you realize how different these roads were from their modern forms.

For starters, the intersection of FM 2818 (no one called it "Harvey Mitchell Parkway", that name wasn't adopted until 1999) and Wellborn was not even a stoplight. There were two small lights suspended on wires that blinked red in whichever direction you were facing (these lights are typically found nowadays on highways going through small towns).

SH 40 was 10 years away from opening, and there was nothing in that direction anyway, the North Graham Road stoplight (now gone) was the last sign of civilization until you got to Wellborn, and then Millican. Pebble Creek, conversely, was a truly exurban subdivision: there was practically nothing between Rock Prairie and Greens Prairie (and keep in mind, Kroger and the other commercial developments weren't around).

SH 47 was brand-new and opened that year or late 1995.

The next two pages talk about how things would be improved, and they're substantially different from the way things actually turned out:

The first thing that never happened was that basically what would happen is Wellborn Road would be six-laned between George Bush (newly renamed) and FM 60, with new pedestrian overpasses. Texas A&M balked at that idea (even though it got the green light from TxDOT) and we now have to deal with 35 miles per hour and expensive pedestrian underpasses.

The second thing, and perhaps more important, that never happened is that FM 2818 would become a full freeway between Wellborn and Highway 21, with all-new overpasses being constructed at Leonard Road (currently a stoplight, though I think it had blinking lights at the time, up until maybe the mid-2000s), Turkey Creek Road (the northern Turkey Creek Road), Villa Maria Road, F&B Road, and George Bush Drive.

That pretty much covers all the lights and would-be lights on that section of FM 2818 (and people would likely be much happier today if they had followed through on that). FM 60, of course, already had an interchange by this point (it would be likely reconfigured, however).

Notice that the "freeway" goes up Turkey Creek, as well, going up to the intersection of Carson and Finfeather. I'm guessing this would be the "highway spur" into Bryan (hardly necessary, I'd say) but I guess it's okay since the Beck extension never existed).

I actually kind of like this plan. Like I said, Harvey Mitchell has been polluted with lights with only the occasional new overpass project (as of this writing, there's an overpass project going on at Villa Maria Road), and that doesn't even cover all the driveways and the like going in and out of it: we've touched on the tragedies at Luther Street West and it's only a matter of time before those numerous apartment complexes between Luther and Holleman cause a major accident.

Since it connected to Highway 40...perhaps the new highway would become the "new" SH 40? I suppose it would be fair to have a type of theoretical drive-by how it could've played out, or addressing any problems, as well as change anything obvious. Assuming that the main lanes are complete by 2013 (and we're not going to get into of when they would've been built in this alternate reality, but in many cases it's the frontage roads built first), our person works at College Station High School, which was built in 2012, and drives down Victoria Avenue to the stoplight at Texas 40 and Victoria (in this alternate reality, it's NOT named William D. Fitch Parkway). He gets on the freeway, passing by the Barron Road exit, and notices that the frontage road merges into the same road as he heads north toward home (meanwhile, the frontage road begins in the southbound direction for the Barron Road exit). He then notices the Wellborn Road exit, but passes over it. It's designed in a similar way that University Drive and Wellborn used to be (before they rebuilt it circa 2011-2012).

He notices the Rock Prairie Road exit next. The Rock Prairie Road exit is a bit of a strange thing. The intersection with the northbound frontage road (which parallels the railroad) and Rock Prairie Road has a stoplight. Cross the railroad and it's another stoplight as it crosses Wellborn Road. It used to be a much busier road back in the day, and could've been a lot busier. It's a two way road with bike paths and a turning lane, and has numerous businesses on it, like Koppe Bridge and Ace Hardware. He wondered if Ace would've gone out of business if Wellborn had gone through expansion much later than it did. He also thought about the railroad crossings and other businesses that used to be along the stretch. The terrifying Cain Road crossing (steep hills, sharp drop-offs, didn't even align with the road very much) or the North Graham crossing were now just memories. There also used to be a plant nursery near North Graham. It would've been closed anyway by now. It was a good thing the Rock Prairie crossing wasn't on the left side: back on Interstate 10 in Houston, people trying to turn right on smaller roads to go home would get backed up by the train, dumping traffic back onto the freeway. Not good.

The frontage roads disappeared as it went over the intersection of Marion Pugh Road and North Dowling Road. Early plans, which were not on the smaller 1996 map distributed by mail, showed an interchange right over the roads. Rather, the highway just went over it. Ultimately, they built an interchange at Harvey Mitchell Parkway, the remaining portion of FM 2818. It intersected with Marion Pugh at a stoplight, then crossed the railroad (an overpass had been planned here but scuttled). It too had relatively low traffic. It was a major boulevard to get to Texas Avenue, but it wasn't a major highway or thoroughfare.

Holleman Drive was next as the frontage roads re-appeared. Holleman crossed under the highway and slowly curved into Dowling near Woodlands Drive. What if Holleman curved back around to Marion Pugh, creating a very twisty road? Perish the thought.

He passed Luther Street West, divided into Poultry Science Road and Luther Street West (it was a dangerous crossing back in the 1990s), then George Bush Drive (a popular exit for university traffic), then Raymond Stotzer Parkway (to the airport, or the university: also both extremely popular). Back in 1996, the set-up used to be different, as you could turn directly from 2818 to the on-ramp.

Eventually, the divided highway would end at 21. But that's (possibly) not all. Imagine a way for the highway from SH 40 to continue west, possibly as a divided highway to Austin (some areas of 21 are in need of a rehab anyway). There could be a bypass on Caldwell, and so forth. Better yet, looking south, since Highway 6 South had gotten a rehab in the mid-2000s (and just got some new frontage roads and an overpass at Peach Creek Road in the mid-1990s), we could continue our "new" highway even further down south. Maybe connect it to Highway 249, the future "Aggie Expressway".

In any case, I think that FM 2818 especially in that area between Holleman and Villa Maria would be so much better as on overpass. No tons of stoplights, no driveways. Just enter the freeway and accelerate.

The final page of the thing I scanned is nothing interesting: just has the 409 area code we had until circa 1997, plus the receipt I used to clumsily cover the address.