Officials discussed the scope of the project at a June 27 public engagement meeting hosted by the Montrose Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. According to the Montrose TIRZ, the project is in line with the Neighborhood Safe Streets initiative, which aims to provide safe infrastructure for all road users regardless of age and abilities, including pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists and drivers.
The project, included in the TIRZ's Walk+Bike Montrose study, covers Mandell Street from I-69 to Fairview Street and West Dallas from Waugh Drive to Montrose Boulevard. Funding comes from Harris County Precinct 1 as well as the city of Houston’s District C office and public works department.
TIRZ officials said they hope to improve safety and mobility by milling and overlaying deteriorated asphalt and restriping roadways. The project will also implement continuous, wider sidewalks with improved accommodations at intersections, such as curb extensions and raised crosswalks.
According to the June 27 presentation, improvements along Mandell Street will specifically fix sidewalks to align with the city’s 6-foot standard, resurface pavement, implement speed cushions and create high-comfort bike lanes through the use of both dedicated bike lanes and shared street segments.
The intersection of Mandell Street and Richmond Avenue is classified as a city of Houston high-injury network—a street that has severe, fatal injuries from car accidents. From I-69 to Richmond Avenue along Mandell Street, officials proposed a shared street design for bikes and car traffic with parking on both sides. During public engagement, some residents spoke about their concerns at that intersection, referencing a 2017 pedestrian fatality.
Along Mandell Street from Richmond Avenue to Westheimer Road, proposals aim to have on-street parking on one side of the street, dedicated bike lanes with increased protection at the intersection and a travel lane shift to reduce speeds.
From Westheimer Road to Fairview Street, proposed improvements include a shared street with a bike box at the approach to Westheimer. A bike box is an area at the head of traffic at an intersection that helps bicyclists get ahead of cars during a red light. Under the current design, residents said they have issues with turning at the intersection.
Proposals also include the removal of four parallel parking spaces at Mandell Street southbound as drivers approach Westheimer Road, which officials said would improve safety and visibility.
During the meeting, TIRZ officials said the north side of West Dallas Street has good conditions, attributing this to the new housing developments in the area. However, they said the south side of the road is in poor condition and does not comply with city standards.
On West Dallas Street from Waugh Drive to Montrose Boulevard, officials have proposed protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks and a three-lane cross section with a two-way center turn lane to match work previously done at Waugh and Commonwealth.
At the intersection between West Dallas Street and Montrose Boulevard, officials said conversations are ongoing with the incoming Ismaili Center, but they would like to implement protected bike lanes and improved bus stops.
The West Dallas design also proposes elevated bike lanes to eliminate conflict between bikes and buses. If implemented, bicyclists will yield to pedestrians who enter and exit the bus.
The proposals were largely well-received from individuals who attended the public engagement meeting. Bike Houston Executive Director Joe Cutrufo said he is glad to see the changes coming, especially where bicyclists cross major streets. He would like to see more protected bike lanes and would like the project to extend to Buffalo Bayou.
“It’s really great to see the bike network expanding through Montrose,” Cutrufo said.
Montrose resident Frank Blake asked the TIRZ to consider adding street trees instead of more concrete on sidewalks.
Officials said public engagement will continue throughout the timeline of the project. According to the presentation, the design phase will start in July and run through March 2023. The bid phase could begin in April 2023 and be followed by construction that summer.
Another public meeting will provide additional opportunities for residents and civic associations to comment, officials said. Dates for this meeting have not yet been announced.