Update: A previous version of this article identified Jerry Gause as a former engineer. Upon further research, the reference to Gause's experience in the article has been updated to specify his work as a former petroleum engineer.
A project that involves redesigning a portion of 11th Street in the Heights to include better bicycle and pedestrian facilities is nearing the end of the design phase, but Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced May 3 he intends to take a closer look at the project following opposition from some Heights residents.
Turner made the announcement at the May 3 Houston City Council public session, during which multiple people also spoke out against the project. Turner said he will take "ownership" of the city project and use the next 30 days to make an assessment on the design.
Known as the 11th Street Bikeway, the project involves making roadway improvements on 1.5 miles of 11th Street between Shepherd Drive and Michaux Street as well as on Michaux from 11th Street to just north of Stude Park. The project has received support from officials with Bike Houston.
In addition to the bike and pedestrian improvements, planners have also pitched a "road diet," a construction plan that would reduce 11th Street from four lanes to two lanes with middle turning lanes in some areas. The change is meant to get drivers to reduce their speeds while on 11th, thereby increasing safety, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.
During the public session, opponents of the project explained why they do not want to see the city implement a road diet.
According to Heights resident Jerry Gause, crashes on 11th Street tend to take place between Shepherd and Durham drives. Focusing on that area, he said, makes more sense than redesigning 11th.
Gause said he is concerned that reducing lanes and putting in bike lanes on 11th will lead to an increase in the risk of fatalities and congestion on adjacent streets. Gause identified himself as a former engineer at the meeting though he lists himself specifically as a petroleum engineer on LinkedIn.
District C Council Member Abbie Kamin said the project is about 90% through the design, and public meetings have been held to gather input dating back to 2018. Gause said concerns among residents have been growing more recently as word about the project reaches a wider audience.
Turner said he will be talking to multiple departments and people in the community while making his assessment. The 11th Street Bikeway, he said, is not a measure that will be voted on by council.
A Houston Bikeway update will be given on May 5 at Houston’s Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee meeting.