The future of Edloe Street in the city of West University Place has been decided after council members approved a construction contract for the Edloe Pathway Project at a Jan. 9 meeting by a 4-1 vote.
The project covers roughly one-half of a mile, from Georgetown Street to Albans Road, and will cost the city an estimated $667,380. According to Mayor Pro Tem John Montgomery, the city is willing to use its capital reserve fund to finish the pathway.
“I believe [the project] is valuable to the community,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery also said inflation and the rising cost of supply chain materials affected the overall cost to complete the project.
“That’s a lot to pay for the safety of elderly people or anybody else who wants to enjoy that asset," he said at the meeting. "I would like to get it started as soon as we can.”
The contract was awarded to PMG Project Management Group, which has worked with the city of Houston on park projects in the past, according to Susan White, the city's director of parks and recreation.
Improvements to the pathway include adding landscaping, native plants, drinking fountains and benches; handling irrigation system improvements; creating the pathway using recycled materials; and adding new fencing along the west side of Poor Farm Ditch. City staff has looked at lower-cost alternatives for portions of the project, including for two of highest cost items—the aluminum fencing along Poor Farm Ditch and the actual pathway on Edloe Street, White said.
Mayor Susan Sample highlighted the importance of citizen safety.
“To me, it would be really hard for me to say no to something so important to our city," she said. "Safety is a big part of our quality of life. ... [The pathway] possibly would transform the most dangerous path in the city into the safest one.”
Resident John Clayton Brett attended the Jan. 9 meeting to voice his support for the pathway during the meeting's public comment period. He approached the podium with a broken scooter that he said belonged to his son.
“A month ago, my son was going north on Edloe [Street] with his nanny and his sister," Brett told the council. "He started falling off. He let go of the scooter, and the scooter rolled into the road on Edloe, where it was run over and demolished by a landscaping truck that never slowed down or stopped.”
Brett said the new sidewalk would mean more peace of mind to his family, who live on Albans Road.
“This pathway was a God-send in that it would allow our children to remain on their side of the street without crossing into traffic without a cross walk," he said. "West U is an awesome place to live. Part of the reason it’s so awesome is it's a safe place for kids to be outside and move about, and the sidewalks and pedestrian safety is a big part of that, particularly with young kids.”
Council Member John Barnes voted against the project, advocating for more time for staff to go over costs and data. In an email sent to constituents Jan. 10, the day after the council meeting, Barnes relayed data from a citywide traffic study he said showed Edloe Street is safe.
“As part of their study, the engineers collected historical data over a six-year period between 2014-19 concerning auto, pedestrian and bicycle incidents throughout the city," Barnes said in the email. "More importantly, as the traffic engineers’ presentation shows, six years' worth of collected data contains no instance of an auto, pedestrian or bicycle crash along Edloe between Rice [Boulevard] and Albans Road. Not a single one. West U parents should therefore rest assured that, according to the experts, Edloe is currently safe as it is.”
As the project moves forward, staff from the parks and recreation department as well as council members will meet Jan. 23 with a budget amendment ordinance and execute the agreement.
The new Edloe pathway could be completed by the spring, White said.
“According to the way the bid is written, completion is anticipated in mid-May 2023 at the earliest,” White said.