News from District G
  February 9, 2017

Houston City Council Member Greg Travis


Contact Information:

900 Bagby, 1st Floor
Houston, TX 77002

Mailing:
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX 77251-1562

Phone: (832) 393-3007

Fax: (832) 393-9571

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To our friends and neighbors in District G:
Nottingham Drainage and Paving Project (CIP # M-000247-0001-3)
PWE Releases Revised Proposals

Kirkwood Road is set to be reconstructed following the completion of a drainage project which has been scheduled for some time. The project extends from Memorial Drive to Britoak, just south of I-10.  The start of construction is currently scheduled to begin in 2018. Design is currently scheduled to be completed by July 5, 2017. The plans (drawings and specifications) are still a work in progress and nothing is set in stone.  With that in mind, the Public Works and Engineering Department ("PWE") has released their latest revised proposals.
 
During June of last year, my office hosted a community engagement meeting to discuss the initial plans proposed by PWE and to obtain public input. A second community engagement meeting was held in July, 2016, to gather additional input from the community.  You talked, PWE listened.
 
Kirkwood Road is and has been for over 50 years designated as a Major Thoroughfare. Initially a six lane road was contemplated (three lanes in each direction). Partly due to the results our office obtained in maintaining Gessner as a four lane road, it was thought that this would work for Kirkwood as well. In order to keep Kirkwood from becoming a six lane road, there will need to be left turn lanes wherever there is a cut in the median. The initial plan PWE presented called for 19 foot wide medians down from the current 31 foot wide medians. It also called for 150 foot left turn lanes. This was unacceptable to the neighborhoods and it was unacceptable to me. The neighborhoods formed the Nottingham Task Force ("NTF") and also provided input separate and apart from the individual residents.
 
Our office hoped to sit down this week with the NTF to discuss these latest revisions and allow them and the public in general to provide additional comments. I had been working with PWE to make sure they would meet the needs and concerns of the city, District G and the neighborhoods as much as possible.  Our goal was to avoid any confusion and not to upset anyone with preliminary ever-changing plans.  Unfortunately, patience wasn't a virtue and charges have been leveled at us that we have been keeping you "in the dark" by not immediately releasing the revised proposed plans.  We are therefore making the plans available to all now via this email and ask that residents provide any comments or suggestions they may have directly to our office.  Let us know how we did. Are we close?
 
Below you will see the drawings and layouts of the various designs as well as a comparison of the designs. After the comparison and the drawings, I am providing more information as to why we are where we are today. You are welcome to look at PWE's latest revised proposed plans for the Nottingham Drainage and Paving project. You will find the revised proposed layout here: http://www.houstontx.gov/council/g/nottingham/revised-proposed-layout.pdf  and the revised proposed cross section here: http://www.houstontx.gov/council/g/nottingham/revised-proposed-cross-section.pdf

DRAWINGS and LAYOUTS
 
Current Kirkwood Layout:
Currently, Kirkwood has a thirty-one foot median, two ten-foot lanes of travel, a four foot dedicated on-street bike lane, a four and one-half foot curb lawn on each side (the greenspace between street and sidewalk) and a four foot sidewalk on each side.
 
Original PWE Proposed Kirkwood Layout:
The original design proposed by PWE included a reduction of the medians from 31 feet to 19 feet (with a range of 8-19 feet for left turn stacking lanes), two eleven-foot lanes of travel, a five foot on-street bike lane with a three foot on-street bike lane buffer, a four and one-half foot curb lawn, and a five foot sidewalk.

Nottingham Task Force Proposal:
 
As presented to our office, the NTF requested that PWE: (1) maintain 4 lanes of traffic, (2) provide left turn lanes at signalized intersections only, (3) maintain the wide medians, and (4) eliminate the on-street bike lanes in favor of dual use pedestrian bike pathways located behind the curb (with the recommendation that the shared paths be eight feet wide). There were over 700 comments submitted to PWE, with most of those comments being generally in line with the NTF recommendations.
 
PWE Revised Proposed Layout:
PWE has worked hard to provide the NTF and the residents with the design and layout they requested. The new proposal includes only four lanes of travel (not six lanes as many had feared), 27 foot medians (very few trees will be affected), two 11-foot lanes of travel (current design standard), and 10 foot off-street, behind-curb, shared use pedestrian/bike pathways (slightly wider than recommended by the NTF). In order to limit destruction of trees in the median, and to provide better traffic management (thus gaining the mobility improvements necessary to meet the required Level of Service without widening the roadway to six lanes), PWE recommends eliminating the median cuts at Taylorcrest Rd. and Pebblebrook Dr.  This would add greenspace and trees because the current median cuts would be replaced with landscaped medians with new trees.  It will also limit turn-down traffic on these streets. PWE has also opened to public comment the issue of whether or not there should be a median cut at Kingsride Lane. While typical left turn stacking lanes are 150 to 200 feet in length, PWE is willing to look at each median cut and reduce them to 50 feet whenever possible, thereby preserving additional median greenspace and trees. This is important-we have persuaded them to reduce the turn lanes by 75% thus saving a good portion of the esplanades.
  
I do know that for many residents turn lanes are a stumbling block. Wherever there is a median cut there must be a left turn lane. If residents desire to close off additional medians, that will not only save trees that might be impacted by construction of left turn stacking lanes, but will also add trees to the new medians at those locations. PWE is willing to close additional median cuts if that is the desire of the community.   Less median cuts equal less turn lanes. More median cuts equal more turn lanes. I will fight for what the community wants as long as it is feasible, but there will not be median cuts with no turn lanes. As it is, we have negotiated down the length of the proposed turn lanes from 200 feet to 50 feet.
  
I have continually heard from people that they do not want any turn lanes. Unfortunately, that is not an option. I am fearful that continued insistence on such a request will result in six lanes-as that is the only manner by which the turn lanes would be eliminated. That is unacceptable to me. I feel my job is to maintain as much as possible the character and integrity of the neighborhoods and lessen the impact of Houston's continued growth on these storied neighborhoods.
 
COMPARISONS of PROPOSALS

Current
1st PWE Proposal
NTF Proposal
2nd PWE Proposal (Revised)
PWE Score Card on 2nd Proposal
(A thru F)
Median 31 feet
19 feet
 30 feet
27 feet
A-
Lanes: 20 feet
(2-10 each side)
22 feet
(2- 11 each)
23 feet
(2 - 11.5 each)
22 feet
(2-11 each)
A
Sidewalks- 8 Feet
(4 feet each side)
10 feet
(2- 5 each side)
16 Feet (Dual Use)
(2- 8 each side)
20 Feet (Dual Use)
(2-10 each side)
A-
Bike Lane-8 Feet
(4 feet each side)
10 feet
(2 - 5 each side)
N/A (See Above)
N/A (See Above)
A-
Buffer-11 Feet
(5.5 feet each)
17 feet
(2-8.5 each side)
8 feet
(2-4 each side)
9 feet
(2-4.5 each side)
A
Median Cuts--9
9
9
6-7
B
Turn Lanes--0
18 (200 feet each)
0
12-14 (50 feet each)
C+

How do you score it?
 
I think we have come a long way from the first PWE proposal. The comments by the general public and NTF grabbed the attention of PWE and helped our office craft a proposal more in line what the neighborhoods want. I am concerned that some will allow the pursuit of the perfect to become the enemy of the good. While I think we can still urge and make some changes to these plans, I would hate to see this project delayed further because some people don't want to take yes for an answer.
 
Finally, I would like to thank PWE for carefully listening to the NTF and to area residents and integrating the vast majority of their preferences into the revised proposed plans. PWE conducted two public engagement meetings where they received over 700 comments. After conducting additional research and commissioning additional studies requested by the NTF, PWE has gone far to accommodate the requests of the NTF whenever possible under current city design standards.
 
If you live in the area and will be impacted by this project, please let our office know your thoughts about the most recent proposal.
 
Sincerely,
Greg Travis