Walk/bike study lays out path for Montrose to become ‘20-minute neighborhood’

Montrose streets
Streets and sidewalks could become far more friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists if over $40.5 million in potential projects are pursued. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

Streets and sidewalks could become far more friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists if over $40.5 million in potential projects are pursued. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

In Montrose, despite being considered one of the most walkable areas in the city, almost 30% of the sidewalks are in poor condition, rendering 6 out of every 10 blocks potentially impassable to someone in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller.

That is among the findings of a nine-month, first-of-its-kind study backed by the Montrose Tax-Increment Reinvestment Zone, which accrues a portion of area property taxes to fund infrastructure improvements.

“We say it is walkable, but it’s not,” said Randy Mitchmore, the chair of the TIRZ. “But we want it to be.”

The plan outlines a road map to make Montrose a “20-minute neighborhood,” where a high quality of life is possible for residents without ever having to hop into a car, said Geoff Carleton, senior principal for Traffic Engineers Inc., which led the study with Gauge Engineering.

“We walked and assessed every linear foot of sidewalk, every curb ramp, every transit stop,” Carleton said. “We went into this to do a sidewalk assessment that could become the gold standard of what every neighborhood should aspire to.”

From that assessment, the study built a network model tying in major thoroughfares as well as internal streets and sidewalks. The study also layered safety, accessibility and future project considerations, such as the METRONext plan, which calls for improvements to bus corridors along Montrose Boulevard and Westheimer Road, as well as a bus rapid transit line down Richmond Avenue.

“People are able to point out a gap, like a broken sidewalk, but we were able to think about this as a system,” Carleton said. “This is all around prioritizing and laying out a path.”

The study identifies over $40 million in potential projects, most of which will involve partnerships between the TIRZ, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, the city of Houston and Harris County. The study also contemplates other programs to encourage homeowners and developers to make sidewalk improvements with the possibility of rebates.

The data-driven nature of the study will allow the TIRZ to make strategic decisions about how to move forward while also tapping into other funding sources, such as transit dollars to improve access to METRO bus stops and grants to improve pedestrian safety around schools.

“This will help us go after grants. This is the type of approach they like to see,” Gauge Engineering principal Muhammad Ali said. “And because the TIRZ made the case that we need to look at the whole area, including the enclave neighborhoods, not just the TIRZ boundary, we have something that will have a substantially greater benefit.”

The TIRZ will begin developing a capital improvement plan of projects the zone can pursue over decades.

View the full Walk Bike Montrose report below.

By Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


Dozens of clinics throughout the county offer COVID-19 testing services. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
COVID-19 testing locations remain open in Montgomery County and more local news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news.

Several local markets offer ways to support small businesses and artisans this holiday season. (Courtesy Pexels)
Check out these Small Business Saturday and holiday markets in Houston

Here are a few ways to support local businesses as the holiday shopping season kicks off.

Heading into Thanksgiving, Texas Medical Center continues to report uptick in hospitalizations

The total number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Texas Medical Center facilities has increased by more than 50% over two weeks.

The Harris County Justice Administration Department is working to release final reports and launch pilot programs in early 2021. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County Justice Administration Department makes headway on countywide criminal justice studies

The department is working to release the final versions of several studies and launch pilot programs with local law enforcement groups in early 2021.

The Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce Foundation's food drive this year will support the Montrose Center, filling boxes of food for LGBTQ seniors. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Greater Houston LGBT Chamber hosts holiday food drive

The food drive will accept donations in person Dec. 4 as well as online.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The vaccine could start being distributed "as early as next month," according to a Nov. 23 news release.

"Remember, we don't want to invite COVID-19 to the dinner table," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a Nov. 23 press conference urging caution amid rising COVID-19 positivity rates. (Screenshot via ABC13)
Mayor Sylvester Turner urges caution heading into Thanksgiving holiday

Houston officials also said 333 health providers had been identified as future vaccine delivery sites.

Good Dog Houston
Good Dog serves its last hot dog at Montrose location

Guests who can show proof of Montrose residency can get a discount at the Heights location through the end of 2020.

protestor in crowd with who police the police sign
New report: Houston police oversight board lagging behind major Texas cities

The report suggested having no oversight board has a better effect on public trust than having a dysfunctional board.

Nell Stewart
East Montrose neighborhood plans parade for 100-year-old resident Nell Stewart

"Well, we treasure her, so wanted to do something," said resident Julie Young.

Laura Colangelo
Q&A: Laura Colangelo discusses challenges facing private schools during pandemic

Colangelo said private schools have adapted to remote learning and other obstacles in 2020 despite less revenue and a 9% decline in enrollment statewide.