Open Letter on Bike Path Diversion

Mayor Sylvester Turner
sylvester.turner@houstontx.gov
@SylvesterTurner

Council Member Ellen Cohen
districtc@houstontx.gov
@EllenCohen1

Dear Mayor Turner and Council Member Cohen,

When I read the Chronicle article attached below, I understood the need for a detour around the often used route, and appreciated the thought put into it. It seemed like a good solution.

The article states “The detours will not be continuous, but periodic throughout the construction project when construction nearby could create unsafe conditions along the original bike trails” as well as “the detour and reroute are expected to begin between April and May and will last through the third quarter of 2017.”

However there seems to be either,

  1. a miscommunication,
  2. a failure to execute, or
  3. deception by someone

going on in this situation.

There are already signs up along the path redirecting users to use the detours. They have been up for over 10 days. There is also signage that appears to indicate that cyclists should use the sidewalk on the west side of Houston Avenue as the detour.

This is neither safe, nor acceptable.

I would like to know if the original decision has been changed or if there is a timing and communication failure occurring. Please remedy the situation.

Your Constituent,
Bill Shirley

Heights Area Bike Trails to be Rerouted to Houston Avenue“, Tara White, Houston Chronicle,  Wed Mar 9 2016

CC:
Council Member Karla Cisneros (as the detour is in your district)
districth@houstontx.gov
@Karla4Houston

Deidrea George, TxDOT Houston Public Information Office (quoted in the article)
Email via web-form
@TxDOTHoustonPIO

Tara White, freelance writer for Chronicle (author of the article)
viewpoints@chron.com
@houstonchron

cached article:

Heights-area bike trails to be rerouted to Houston Avenue

Temporary detour, slated to begin in April, is necessary because of I-45 construction
Published 7:40 am, Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Heights motorists and bicyclists will soon share stretches of Houston Avenue during a temporary detour of bicycle trails.

Stretches of the Heights and White Oak bike trails will be rerouted to Houston Avenue during construction along Interstate 45 next to and over White Oak Bayou where the trails normally run.

Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office stated that the plan will aim to keep the route “trail-like,” designating the west side of southbound Houston Avenue between Spring Street and White Oak Drive as a two-way temporary bike lane closed to motor vehicle traffic.

This will not close all of Houston Avenue to motorists, but route them around the bike lane.

The detours will not be continuous, but periodic throughout the construction project when construction nearby could create unsafe conditions along the original bike trails.

Deidrea George, a Texas Department of Transportation representative, said the detour and reroute are expected to begin between April and May and will last through the third quarter of 2017, at which time the entire project is projected for completion.

The bike trail re-route placement was a joint decision by the City of Houston and TxDOT.

George said cyclists can expect to see instructional signs in black and orange or black and white posted along the bike trails, directing folks to the detour route.

These signs will be posted and maintained by contractor Balfour Beatty, and will be rectangular in shape.

The I-45 construction is part of a three phase, $19.64 million TxDOT project that began in 2015.

The project replaces a bridge and bridge deck, and adds a new connector all on I-45.

All of the work falls along a 1.072 mile section of I-45 from Memorial Drive to Quitman.

The project is currently on it’s third and final phase, which replaces the northbound bridge on I-45 from Hogan Street to White Oak Bayou.

Partial funding for the project is through the Federal Highway Bridge Program, with the Federal government footing 80 percent of the bill and the remaining 20 percent paid for by the State of Texas. To qualify, all HBP projects must improve safety and efficiency of the highway.

The bridge from Hogan Street to White Oak Bayou, and the bridge deck on northbound I-45 from Memorial Drive to Hogan Street will replace and improve upon existing structures; while the connector is an entirely new structure that TxDOT has earmarked for added safety.

“It is a safety feature so that now traffic going from I-10 westbound to I-45 northbound will veer on to their own connector instead of being tied up in traffic continuing along I-10,” George said. “This will go a long way in reducing congestion in the area as well.”

She also said private property or parks nearby will not be changed or effected by the construction of the new connector bridge.

Once the construction is completed in October 2017, George said that the bike trails will resume their normal routes, unchanged.