East End Mobility
As a firm with both planners and engineers, Traffic Engineers, Inc. (TEI) is able to take community ideas from concept through funding to successful implementation. That’s just what we’re doing in our work with Houston’s Historic East End.
Starting with a vision…
The Second Ward / Greater East End area, east of Downtown Houston, is one of Houston’s historic neighborhoods, and has seen significant changes over time. The area has experienced increased levels of development, construction of the BBVA Soccer Stadium, and opening of METRO’s new East End rail line. With a 1920s-era street grid, mixed-use neighborhood development, and proximity to Downtown, the East End is well-positioned to thrive as a walkable, urban place. The community – led by the Greater East End Management District – spent time to develop a shared vision, and is working hard to create the most walkable neighborhood in the Houston region.
Building an actionable plan to support the vision
In 2012, TEI led a multi-disciplinary team to develop a comprehensive mobility plan for the historic East End, in support of the client’s vision. The mobility plan considered several future development scenarios, including a base growth scenario and a transit-oriented development (TOD) / high-growth scenario. From these scenarios, the team assessed opportunities to improve roadways, transit, walking, and biking modes, and strengthen economic development opportunities. TEI identified 36 projects to support the study goals, including:
- Innovative roadway and intersection improvements, including a proposed roundabout, to efficiently and safely accommodate all travel modes, connect major destinations, and support economic development
- Pedestrian and bicycle facilities with wayfinding plans to enhance walkability and connect all levels of bicycle riders to major destinations like parks, schools, transit nodes, and entertainment
- Development regulations including parking management districts to support strong, well-connected, urban development
- Recommendation to enhance the City of Houston’s Major Thoroughfare Plan and align it with the study‘s findings
From plan to implementation
Projects were developed with sufficient depth to readily support implementation strategies and future grant requests. Development of the improvements involved close coordination with many important stakeholders, including the Greater East End Management District, the City of Houston, METRO, and the Gulf Coast Rail District.
Then in 2013 and 2014, TEI planners helped the Greater East End pursue and win several grants to fund improvements including sidewalk and intersection improvements identified by the study.
Designing and building the future
Enabled with funds, TEI worked with the team to design improvements to 20 street corridors, including segments of Delano Street, Engelke Street, Canal Street, and Navigation Boulevard. TEI prepared engineering plans for the construction of more than 31,000 feet of sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks, and bus shelter pads.
In addition, design work also included:
- Road “diets” where low traffic volumes supported allocating more space to people who walk and bike;
- Pavement modifications to ensure adequate right-of-way for sidewalks of the desired width;
- Drainage modifications to relocate inlets and manholes due to curb line changes;
- Striping of streets and crosswalks; and
- Signature East End aesthetic enhancements
The team ensured design compliance with standards set by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as compatibility with METRO’s transit operations. Extensive coordination ensured the design met all applicable requirements and standards.
Construction of these improvements began in 2014, and is advancing the client’s vision of creating the most walkable neighborhood in the Houston region.