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The streetscape for the Universities line

RichmondRail.org has a suggestion for Metro.

For the coming light rail line to be a true asset to our neighborhoods, the streets leading to the transit stations must accommodate pedestrians more safely and comfortably than is typical for Houston streets outside downtown. If enacted, the proposed transit corridor ordinance (aka the Urban Corridor ordinance, which we hope to see on the City Council agenda for approval soon), would foster the evolution toward a more pedestrian-friendly environment as redevelopment occurs along the light rail corridors. That will take time. We believe that there is a near-term opportunity to achieve a better pedestrian environment along the University Line on lower Richmond Ave.

Virtually all of the public right-of-way on Richmond Ave. from Spur 527 to Kirby Dr. is only 80 feet wide. When METRO builds the University Line, we anticipate that they will also need to rebuild the sidewalks along that stretch of Richmond. What better time to create a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape than when the rail line is being built? However, the right-of-way constraints do present challenges.

Click over, and take a look at their resolution of support for a pedestrian streetscape for more. Note that none of this requires any property takings, and will make the area much more pedestrian-friendly. To me, the highlight is the request to bury phone, cable, and electric utility wires. This will not only enable better sidewalks in the space allocated, as utility poles will no longer be there blocking the way, but will also provide for fewer service interruptions during and in the aftermath of storms. Remember how downtown and parts of the Galleria area never lost power during Hurricane Ike? Doing this will add to the cost of construction, but there’s never a cheaper time to do this than when the streets are being torn up anyway. It’s an investment, one that makes a lot of sense and will pay off in many ways. Check it out, and add your support for the idea.

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3 Comments

  1. Baby Snooks says:

    Interesting. A rail line plus four lanes for cars plus this wonderful tree-lined sidewalk for those of us who like to walk. I walk. There are not that many people in Montrose, Midtown, or Neartown who walk. Believe me. And all of this on Richmond? The cost of condemnation will exceed the cost of the rail line.

    If ever there were a place to put a monorail, Richmond is it. But for some reason, no one like monorail.

    I would imagine the fun will begin when the notices of condemnation arrive offering $1 a square foot.

  2. jon boyd says:

    The Richmond Rail proposal does not require additional ROW. Using 10 ft auto lanes yields an additional 4 feet of space for sidewalks. That’s two feet of additional sidewalk for each side of the street. 10 foot lanes are more than sufficient for motorists who are driving at posted speeds.

  3. Baby Snooks says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it. So much disagreement over this. One thing I think everyone can agree with is that Metro has and always will be just another example of how poorly planned Houston has always been and probably always will be. We build buildings and houses and entire subdivisions. And then, suddenly, we think about the traffic impact of it all. That should be the first thing we think of.

    We are still completing the Gulf Freeway for example. Fifty years after we began it. Oh, well, at least some will always have a job.

    The worst example of all is Stella Link between South Braeswood and Loop 610. The city spent a fortune repaving it. Then spent a fortune tearing it up to lay new sewers. Then spent another fortune repaving it a second time. The city probably would have pulled the same stunt, which of course added more to a contractor’s contract, with Kirby except for the fact that too many people remembered Stella Link.

    As for rail, well, so far it doesn’t seem to be too concerned with traffic impact at all which supposedly is of great concern to everyone. Or maybe it’s just of concern to people with regard to the 1700 block of Bissonnet. Everywhere else the concern, the sole concern, seems to be making the developers happy. And, of course, rich.