Urban planning

A walking shame? Bagby Street Reconstruction Project halted — and resumed — under controversy

A walking shame? Bagby Street Reconstruction Project halted — and resumed — under controversy

Bagby Street redesign, rendering
The Bagby Street Reconstruction project is aimed to make the Midtown-area a more pedestrian-friendly zone.  Rendering by Walter P. Moore/Design Workshop/Greenroads/Facebook
Bagby Street redesign, rendering
Project supporters worried that converting the parking lane into a third driving lane would disqualify Bagby from being Greenroads-certified. Rendering by Walter P. Moore/Design Workshop/Greenroads/Facebook
Bagby Street redesign, rendering
Bagby Street redesign, rendering

Several weeks ago, Midtown Houston received an unwelcome letter from the City of Houston Public Works and Engineering Department director Daniel Krueger.

The subject at hand was street reconstruction underway on Bagby Street, between St. Joseph Parkway and Tuam Street, plus a short segment of Pierce Street between Baldwin and Brazos Streets, which began in March.

The Bagby Street Reconstruction project, the first of four Greenroads-certified streets to get underway in Houston, involves reconstructing the streets and sidewalks, replacing under-capacity utilities and incorporating sustainable design with the aim of improving the pedestrian experience.

 The Bagby Street project involves reconstructing the streets and sidewalks, replacing under-capacity utilities and incorporating sustainable design to improve the pedestrian experience.

 Krueger allegedly had some concern that certain aspects of the construction neglected to adhere to the Major Thoroughfare and Freeway Plan, specifically in that some facets of construction (including corner bulb-outs and joints in the concrete streets) planned for the two-lane, one-way street would be detrimental to developing the busy road into a three-lane thoroughfare in the future. 

Supporters of the project became irate at the rumors that reconstruction had halted, rallying with an online petition and well-developed arguments for why the project should continue at its planned capacity, with its planned Complete Streets, pedestrian-friendly model. 

Mayor Annise Parker attempted to dispel some misconceptions at a city council meeting, promising that "Permits were not pulled, construction was not halted, the public works director did have a series of questions as to whether the project was properly vetted at the beginning and whether in fact it was being constructed in accordance to the design plans as submitted."

And then the issue ended almost as quickly as it began: At the monthly board meeting for Midtown Houston last Thursday, the committee addressed the design modifications requests put forth by the PWED, acknowledging that the project will move forward with only minor revisions.

Planner Walter P. Moore estimated that the changes will tack on less than $100,000 and minimal delays.

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