Updated: This article has been updated to include additional information on a Jan. 23 public meeting on the Montrose Boulevard plans.

Officials with the Montrose Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone are seeking feedback on plans to make street and drainage improvements along Montrose Boulevard designed to make the road safer for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and public transit.

At a Dec. 12 TIRZ meeting, officials with Gauge Engineering, the company tasked by the TIRZ to carry out the design work on the project, provided details on what is being proposed and the next steps.

The project spans a roughly 2-mile section from Allen Parkway south to I-69. It will involve a full roadway and drainage reconstruction with hard construction costs estimated at $52 million, Gauge Engineering Principal Mohammed Ali said.

Improvements will focus on improving mobility for all roadway users by widening sidewalks, making intersection crossings safer, replacing traffic signals and improving lighting, Ali said at the Dec. 12 meeting.

"We want to be able to build out the project for the present and the future," Ali said, referencing several new and upcoming developments on Montrose, including Montrose Collective, the Ismaeli Center and the 367-unit Lumen apartment complex.

Vehicle capacity will not be reduced as part of the project.

I-69 to Westheimer Road

The existing lane configuration along this segment of Montrose features two lanes in each direction with an 11-foot center turn lane. Proposals call for taking out the center turn lane and adding a 14-foot median with trees.

The existing four-foot sidewalks would be widened to 10 feet with a six-foot buffer to the street, which officials said would create opportunities for more tree plantings.

When engineers begin the design process, Gauge officials said they design the street block by block, tailoring the design to fit with adjacent development and businesses along the corridor.

While the city of Houston ultimately has the authority of setting the speed limit, Gauge officials said they want to design the road in a way that encourages people to drive around 30 miles per hour. Montrose features sections where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour and 35 miles per hour.

Pavement in poor condition will be improved throughout the project.

Westheimer Road to Dallas Street

The existing segment features two lanes in each direction, a 30-foot-wide median and a narrow pedestrian area. Gauge officials described it as a difficult walking environment, citing utilities, four-foot-wide sidewalks in poor condition and large utility poles.

Proposals call for keeping four travel lanes while narrowing the median to 20 feet wide and using that space to expand the pedestrian area with 10-foot-wide sidewalks. Officials said they would work to preserve as many trees in the median as possible during the narrowing process.

Dallas Street to Allen Parkway

The existing configuration features narrower streets and sidewalks compared to the rest of Montrose Boulevard. Sidewalks exist only on the east side of street, and crossing from Montrose to Buffalo Bayou can generally be challenging, officials noted.

Gauge is coordinating with the Ismaeli Center to expand right-of-way to allow for a wider median with turn lanes and access to the center. A new six-foot-wide sidewalk would be put in on the west side of street, while the east side would be turned into an 11-foot-wide shared-use path for walking and biking.

Other details

Officials said they want to have "safe crossings" at roughly every two to three blocks, meaning crossings with pedestrian refuges in the median and with flashing beacons letting people know when it is safe to cross. West Clay Street at Montrose was cited as one intersection that would be improved.

Most of Montrose falls within the city of Houston's "high injury network"—a term used to refer to the 6% of the city's road segments where 60% of fatal and serious injuries take place.

Gauge also plans to work with the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County on strategically placing bus stops so buses have more space. Traffic signals would also be timed to cater to buses to make their routes through the area more efficient.

Beyond the street improvements, plans also call for improving drainage. Crews will install 10-foot-by-10-foot box culverts underground to meet city drainage criteria, Ali said.

TIRZ Board Chair Joe Webb said the TIRZ has the funding capacity to finance the project but plans to apply for federal grants to help pay for it, which he said would free up money for the TIRZ to use on other road improvements.

Design work will begin on the segment of the project from Allen Parkway to West Clay Street in January. Construction could begin on that segment in January 2024 and be finished by the end of 2024. The timeline for the segment from West Clay to I-69 is to be determined.

A public meeting has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23 to solicit feedback on the plans for Montrose Boulevard. The meeting will take place at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 1805 W. Alabama St., Houston.