Public Works I

  • October 23, 2015

West Alabama proposal

Yesterday at the People & Nature Conference I learned that the Public Works Department and the City of Houston are acquiring right of way along some major corridors with the intention of widening them.

There can be no public benefit to widening Houston’s streets at a time when population and job density are both growing vigorously.

It is clearly time to make wiser – and safer, and more convenient – use of our public right of way.

The proposal for reconfiguring parts of West Alabama removes a car lane but will improve auto throughput in the corridor.

It is the most advanced public works street project I know of and so far it is not littered with expensive amenities that drive public officials to be skeptical about Complete Streets, like West Alabama might be.

Beyond street redesign to enable and increase foot and bicycle traffic in appropriate places, the City needs to quickly complete the strategic phase of the Comprehensive Mobility Plan that is required by Plan Houston, recently adopted by City Council.

The highest priority of that plan should be to identify the City’s potential transit lanes and dedicate right of way for a Bus Rapid Transit system.

To repeat, there is no need – and there is a lot of economic and social danger – to buy new right of way in most of the City’s streets, because the streets should not be widened, wiping out businesses and homes, but should be used much more efficiently.

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