Houston Woman Wire

NEWS Lane Closures Slated for Hermann Park area

Beginning tomorrow, a major construction project adjacent to Hermann Park will cause significant traffic disruptions, and citizens should be aware of lane closures and alternate ways of reaching the park. The traffic changes will occur in two phases: a short-term and a long-term phase that will extend through a construction project in the Texas Medical Center.

Phase One will call for Cambridge Street to be reduced to one eastbound and one westbound lane between the T.M.C. Garage 4 and Fannin Street. Hermann Park visitors should consider using MetroRail or bus service to reach the park, or approach the park from Fannin or Hermann Drive.

It is important to bear in mind that ambulances coming to and from the T.M.C. should be given the right of way, which will be difficult within the two-lane, two-way traffic pattern. Traffic control officers and flaggers will be directing traffic. Automobiles exiting the parking garage onto Cambridge Street will only be able to turn right.

Details of Phase Two of the traffic plan will be released closer to the proposed implementation date, estimated to take place in May 2016.

NEWS Biggio's sport bar to open in November in new Marriott Marquis

Today, the Marriott Marquis Houston announced a partnership with Houston Astros All-Star Craig Biggio to open Biggio’s, a two-story sports bar to debut November 2016.

Just steps from the Houston Astros home field, Minute Maid Park, Biggio’s will pay homage to the baseball legend through showcasing memorabilia from the sports star, as well as offering patrons giant flat screen TVs to enjoy the game, a large craft beer selection including many local brews from Houston’s best breweries, and a selection of crowd-pleasing menu items. The high energy bar will be the place for Houstonians and visitors alike to catch all the sporting action throughout the year.

A second baseman and catcher who played his entire career from 1988 through 2007 for the Houston Astros, Craig Biggio in January became the first of the Astros to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In his career, Biggio tallied 3,060 hits, which ranks 21st in all-time in Major League history and 11th all-time among right-handed hitters.

Beloved by local fans, Biggio earned a reputation during his time in the majors for being a tough and scrappy player, winning the Hutch Award in 2005, given to the player who best shows competitiveness and never gives up.

Biggio is also the recipient of two prestigious community service awards, including the  Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, which honors the Major League Baseball player who combines outstanding play on the field with devoted work in the community and the  Branch Rickey Award, which is also given annually to an individual in Major League Baseball in recognition of his exceptional community service.

“For nearly 30 years, Houston has been my home town, and I am honored to partner with the Marriott Marquis to bring Biggio’s to the city,” said Craig Biggio. “It is really a dream to open a first-rate sports bar just steps away from my second home, Minute Maid Park, with an esteemed partner like Marriott.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Houston legend, Craig Biggio,” said Scot Cotton, general manager of the Marriott Marquis Houston. “Biggio’s will be a premier Houston destination for sports, a good drink, and a great meal.

The Marriott Marquis Housotn, the city’s newest hotel, opens in November 2016, adding 1,000 new guest rooms, over 100,000 square feet of meeting space and Houston's largest ballroom to the city. A one-of-a-kind Texas-shaped lazy river, rooftop infinity pool, and special events pavilion overlooking Discovery Green Park, establish the property as a cosmopolitan oasis in the heart of downtown. The hotel also features a full- service spa and fitness center, great room lobby, and six food and beverage outlets, including two specialty restaurants. 

 

NEWS Rice sets tuition for fall 2016

Rice University’s undergraduate tuition for the 2016-17 school year will be $43,220, an increase of $1,660 from the current year. The total cost, including $13,750 for room and board and $698 in mandatory fees, will be $57,668, a 3.2 percent increase.

Rice is consistently ranked as a “best value” because its tuition is lower than rates at peer research universities and its financial aid policy is designed to make education affordable to students from a variety of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Freshmen who qualify for need-based aid and whose annual family income is $80,000 or less are not required to take out loans to pay for their education; other freshmen who have demonstrated financial need are not required to take out more than a total of $10,000 in loans for their four undergraduate years at Rice.

Because of Rice’s need-blind admission policy, students’ academic qualifications for admission are reviewed without any consideration of their financial situation. Nearly 60 percent of all undergraduate students at Rice receive some form of financial aid through a combination of scholarship grants, loans and work-study programs, and nearly 15 percent of undergraduates receive federal Pell Grants.

“With the economy in another period of volatility and uncertainty, it’s even more important that we take steps to augment our high quality of education and generous financial aid,” President David Leebron said. “That takes support from our donors and prudent stewardship of our endowment and other resources. Our undergraduate students contribute through their tuition and fees payments on average about 30 percent of the total cost of their education, but we have worked very hard to keep increases in their share as small as possible even while adding enhancements to our educational programs.”

The 2016 edition of the Princeton Review’s “Colleges That Pay You Back” guidebook ranks Rice No. 9 on the basis of academic quality, college cost and alumni’s salaries. Rice is ranked No. 4 on Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine’s 2016 list of best values among private universities and has placed among Kiplinger’s top five private best values since the rankings began in 1999.

 

NEWS Houston mayor making good on 'pothole' campaign promise

The city of Houston is making good on Mayor Sylvester Turner's commitment to quick responses to pothole complaints, according to a report from Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Houston recently launched its pothole repair initiative, in which it aims to “assess and repair potholes reported to the 311 help and information line by the next business day.” As a part of this effort, the city also created a website to monitor its progress with respect to this goal. Two of the primary metrics displayed on the pothole tracker site are the outcome of 311 reported potholes and the percentage of potholes filled by the next business day.

The Kinder Institute confirmed the accuracy of the city's advertised rate of 94 percent of citizen-reported potholes filled by the next business day, as reported Jan. 21. The Kinder Institute noted that this percentage has fluctuated between 93 and 96 percent as the city receives and responds to new reports.

"The Kinder Institute was able to recreate the city’s method to calculate potholes filled by the next business day and confirm the accuracy of the numbers they have presented based on that approach," said Kyle Shelton, program manager for the Development, Transportation and Placemaking Program at the Kinder Institute. "Beyond confirming those numbers, we have suggested a few improvements to reporting the data and other changes that we believe might clarify what’s being counted.”

Suggestions included estimating the overall time it takes the city to assess 311 calls and additional breakouts of the categories of response to reports of potholes to further clarify its numbers and methodology for the public.

The city provided the Kinder Institute researchers with the underlying data from the 311 calls and from Public Works and Engineering Department service requests as well as work orders for the dates of Jan. 4-21. The city of Houston merged these data sets and calculated additional variables to compute the numbers displayed on the pothole tracker website. The Kinder Institute researchers worked with the raw data to independently recreate the city’s merged table and calculated variables – the pieces of information that feed directly into the pothole tracker. The method for the Kinder Institute’s approach to checking the numbers, along with the data they used, will be available on the institute’s website.

"As an independent research institution, we are excited to be working with local partners like the city of Houston on tracking and analyzing data such as the pothole numbers," Shelton said. "Putting big urban data to work in this way can help improve public performance and, ideally, Houstonians’ daily experience with the city."

For more information or to download a copy of the full report, visit http://kinder.rice.edu/

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