Setting up Houston's future?
A $556 million bus transit plan: Widening of Post Oak touted, but critics wonder who will ride
The City of Houston's revealed a plan to reduce traffic congestion in Uptown and replenish Memorial Park's canopy in one fell swoop.
Mayor Annise Parker dished on the details, which would involve extending the boundaries of the Uptown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 16 — it currently ends at Loop 610 to the east. Included in the proposed annex are 1,768 acres of public rights-of-way, public parklands and bayou waterways.
"Memorial Park is one of the crown jewels in the Houston parks system," Parker said in a statement. "With the assistance of the Uptown TIRZ, we can repair the devastation left by the drought and return the park to its former beauty for generations to come."
There are concerns about the project's astronomical budget and its perceived lack of ridership.
That project would first update the Memorial Park Conservancy's Master Plan, then remove invasive plan species, plant native grasses and reforest the urban park. As Houston Parks and Recreation Department director Joe Turner explained, "This will position Memorial Park as an east-west gateway that connects the park to the greenways initiative currently underway along Buffalo Bayou from Shepherd to downtown."
The second part of the plan includes transit improvements for Post Oak Boulevard, widening of the road to allow for six lanes of traffic as well as dedicated bus rapid transit system lanes.
"With office, residential and retail markets flourishing in Uptown, the area needs a substantial transit improvement plan to serve its growing needs," Breeding said in a statement. "And it's clear that as Uptown prospers and grows, Memorial Park would play an important role in providing an enhanced quality-of-life and ultimately connecting Uptown Houston to Buffalo Bayou Park and Downtown Houston."
Not all are happy about the proposed bus rapid transit system. Area resident and longtime transportation critic Daphne Scarbrough has spoken out against the Post Oak Line in recent public meetings. She tells CultureMap that she has concerns about the project's astronomical budget and its perceived lack of ridership.
The city has estimated the combined cost of the two projects to be $556 million over 25 years, to be funded by property value revenues generated within the TIRZ. The City Council is set to discuss the expansion on April 24.