Infrastructure

Greater Northside Management District (GNMD) & UH Urban Design Workshop by Michael Graves

Greater Northside Management District (GNMD) would like to invite you to our Urban Design Workshop with the University of Houston - Community Design Resource Center (CDRC) on November 9, 2018, at 12 PM at BakerRipley Leonel Castillo Community Center, 2101 South Street. The purpose of this Urban Design Workshop is to develop the strategic vision and place-based urban design strategies for opportunity areas related to connectivity, identity, and economic development for the District. We are excited to receive a design standard toolkit for the District designed by CDRC composed from stakeholder workshops.

Please RSVP to info@greaternorthsidedistrict.org for lunch count.

Greater Northside Urban Design Workshop
Greater Northside Management District/Community Design Resource Center
November 9, 2018, at 12PM
Leonel Castillo Community Center, 2101 South Street

It’s time to get real about sustainable transportation by Michael Graves

By now, you’ve probably seen the Houston BCycle station at Woodland Park. What you might not realize is that the station connects our historic neighborhood to a public transit system with 65 other bike share stations across Houston.

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Anyone can pick up a bike from our Woodland Park station and ride to nearby places like Bobcat Teddy’s, Sabine Bridge, and Market Square Park. When you arrive at your destination, you simply dock the bike and go about your day until you need to ride again. (Round-trip rides are permitted as well.)

You can take as many hour-long rides as you’d like for just $9 per month. It’s even cheaper if you’re a student or staff member at a local university–those pursuing and providing higher education pay just $25 per semester for full access. Memberships are not available at the stations; you have to visit the BCycle website or download the mobile app to sign up.

Once you’ve got your membership activated, you’ll find that short trips that used to be a hassle in a car are now fun bike adventures. You’ll start to become increasingly familiar with the station map as you plan each upcoming bike share expedition. You’ll find incredible value in skipping traffic and parking hassles while enjoying a much more intimate view of the city.

Last year, a record 142,257 rides were taken throughout the system, replacing nearly a million pounds of carbon emissions. As a local nonprofit-run organization, Houston BCycle is looking to continue to offer affordable transportation that improves the health of riders and the environment alike.

Fresh off of City Council’s approval, Houston BCycle will be growing even further into the Heights in the coming year, along with major expansions at Texas Medical Center, University of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown, and Texas Southern University.

Let’s keep Houston rolling and start seeing our city on two wheels.

- Henry Morris, Houston Bike Share

The City Wants Public Input About Crosswalks on Studewood by Michael Graves

On August 14th our Greater Heights Super Neighborhood Council met with the City of Houston’s traffic engineer Ian Hlavacek to discuss the crosswalk situations at key hike and bike trail crossings, as well as two Studewood crossings at Merrill and 8th. The Studewood crosswalks
are especially important to the Woodland Heights because they keep our neighborhoods connected with each other, enable us to reach businesses across Studewood like Antidote and Sonoma without driving (and contributing to parking congestion), and make it safe for middle school students on the other side of Studewood to walk to school at Hogg.

While Mr. Hlavacek acknowledged the need for these crosswalks to be made safer and more accessible, he would like community input on how we would like for this to happen. Cost is an issue, but when we have a plan in place we could make it happen when the funding becomes available.

Please send your thoughts to:
Ian Hlavacek, P.E. | Supervising Engineer
Houston Public Works | Transportation & Drainage Operations
Ian.Hlavacek@houstontx.gov

FWP: The Fabulous Fireflies by Michael Graves

The Friends of Woodland Park are very proud of the recent installation of Dylan Conner’s remarkable Firefly Field sculpture in Woodland Park. In all respects it has exceeded our lofty expectations. And we want to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the many donors who contributed so this goal could become a reality.

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We realize the caution tape around the sculpture bases is less than attractive and hardly ideal, but by the August 18th weekend the base of the landscape garden (along with its moss rock edging) will be installed. So be sure and come by to witness the evolution of this park project.

After that, what remains is the installation of mulch (soon after), and the planting of the native grasses once Autumn arrives. And we could definitely use your assistance with both these tasks. Please visit our website for details or monitor our Facebook page and Nextdoorpostings for the dates and times for these projects. Neither will take very long if we have a group of enthusiastic volunteers helping us.

Additionally, be sure and circle Friday November 2nd 6-9 PM on your calendar for the formal dedication of our sculpture. Our celebration event: “Illumination of Firefly Field by Dylan Conner”, will be a memorable and fun evening for the whole family. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for details.

If you appreciate the successful completion of this amazing project and you value our community spirit and wish to show your support for local art and artists, one way to do so is through a donation to FWP specifically for the future care of Firefly Field. Your tax deductible donation (FWP is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization and donations are deductible within stated IRS rules & guidelines) can be specifically earmarked for the perpetual care of this new  community landmark.

Please consider supporting local art and artists with your gift to keep the Fireflies and their landscape garden in a first class condition.

- Pat Rutledge, Friends of Woodland Park

August Voting for the Harris County Flood Bond Program by Michael Graves

On the anniversary of Harvey, Houstonians have the opportunity to decide to vote for or against a 2.5 billion dollar flood control project which would cover drainage improvements, upgraded warning systems, infrastructure repairs, home buyouts, and the construction of more detention basins. The cost of these projects would mean a property tax increase of no more than 1.4% if the bond passes. The proposed flood projects are targeted at various watersheds located across the “bayou city”. Community comments and suggestions are still being accepted. To read more about the bond proposal, check out the Harris County Flood District website at https://www.hcfcd.org/bond-program/ .
 
Early voting begins August 8-21 and the election will be held on Saturday, August 25. To determine more about places and times to vote, consult www.harrisvotes.com . Please consider weighing in on this important issue.

NTMP Poll Results by Michael Graves

This just in today....

Dear NTC Members,

Thank you all for your input and assistance in this project. It has been a long journey, but we are near the end.

Below is a summary of the comments that we received from the public meeting in April.

NTMP-Poll-June.PNG

After reviewing the comments, our director has decided that the City will either accept the test speed cushions as they currently are in the neighborhood or remove them entirely.  To help make this final decision, we will be sending out a survey to the 52 residents who indicated ‘support with modification’. The survey will inform them that we do not intend to make any modification and they will be given the option to either support or oppose the test cushions as installed. Then the project will be closed out. If desirable, residents can submit a new NTMP application in 3 years.

Regards,

Khang Nguyen, P.E., PTOE | Assistant Director
City of Houston | Houston Public Works | Transportation & Drainage Operations
611 Walker Street, 5th Floor | Houston, TX 77002 | 832-395-3008
Khang.Nguyen@houstontx.gov

What's Wrong With This Picture? by Michael Graves

The other day I was walking my dogs down the street. It was morning. It was a Thursday so the trash bins were out for collection. Along our path we noticed a bag of yard trimmings with a bright green tag. I'd never seen this tag before so I looked to see what it said. 

 What a bright green tag!

What a bright green tag!

"The City of Houston is no longer accepting petroleum-based (plastic) bags for curbside collection of yard trimmings. These lawn items must be placed in City-Approved Compostable Bags. In addition, materials such as paper, plastic and other trash may not be placed in the compostable bags with yard trimmings. Small twigs and branches do not have to be bagged as long as they are in bundles less than 4 feet in length, less than 18 inches in diameter, weigh less than 50 pounds, and must be tied up with string." 

For more information, please call 3-1-1 or visit www.houstonsolidwaste.org
City of Houston Code of Ordinances Chapter 39 -76


There you have it. The bag was tagged, but not collected, because it was not one of the approved, green, compostable bags. You know the sort...the ones that seem to start to decompose as soon as they get a little damp.

WH Residents Get Houston BCycle Discount! by Michael Graves

Have you ever wondered about the red bikes at the corner of Woodland Park? Houston BCycle is offering Woodland Heights residents a membership and access the bikes for just $6.00 a month!

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While the Woodland Park station connects you directly to the nearby Buffalo Bayou trails, your membership also allows you to access all other Houston BCycle stations across Houston! As a member, you will be able take unlimited 60-minute rides throughout Houston's entire 56-station network (check out their full station map here).

With each BCycle trip, you contribute to building a healthy, sustainable, eco-friendly transit and recreational option for our city. We encourage you to sign up and participate in this transformation!

To activate your discounted Houston BCycle membership, click here, and use these promotional codes:

  • $6.00 Monthly Membership code: FWPNWD9
  • $66.00 Annual Membership code: FWPFG9S

Lastly, Houston BCycle recommends downloading the BCycle app if you end up purchasing a membership. The app will show you an updated map of all the stations and allow you to check out bikes with ease.

Yard/Tree Waste Collection Resumes January 2, 2018 by Michael Graves

In coordination with its Annual Christmas Tree Recycling Program, the Solid Waste Management Department will restart its Yard/Tree Waste Collection and Recycling Program on Tuesday, January 2, 2018. 

Yard/Tree Waste will be collected on residents’ normal garbage collection day. Customers are reminded that yard waste should be properly placed at the curb in city approved recycling bags, or if tree/branch trimmings, they should be bundled and/or tied in lengths not greater than 36 inches. Material not properly prepared for ease of collection will be tagged and left at the curb for the customer’s proper preparation. 

For further instructions on how to prepare yard waste for ease of collection, visit the Solid Waste Management website at www.houstonsolidwaste.org  

What is Tree Waste?

“Clean” wood waste such as tree limbs, branches, and stumps. Lumber, furniture, and treated wood will NOT be accepted. 

What is Yard Trimmings?

Yard Trimmings, grass clippings, small branches and leaves. They must be in city-approved compostable bags. 

For more information about SWMD and its services, visit  at www.houstonsolidwaste.org, “LIKE” us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/houstonsolidwaste, follow us on Twitter @HoustonTrash, or call 3-1-1, the City of Houston’s Customer Service Helpline. 

About the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department

The Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) provides solid waste services to the citizens of Houston through the collection, disposal and recycling of discarded material in a manner that is safe, efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective.

Flood Control District unveils options that would replace concrete lining of White Oak Bayou by Michael Graves

A recently completed study funded by the Memorial Heights Redevelopment Authority (aka City of Houston TIRZ 5) presents options for the natural restoration of Lower White Oak Bayou. These options are alternatives to the present concrete lining. The area studied (“project area”) is defined on the map as the area along White Oak Bayou between Taylor/Watson and Hogan.

The restoration project would require between $30 million to $60 million, and could require many years to complete.

In its press release describing the report, the Flood Control District states:

“All options resulting from the study include removal of the partial concrete lining in this reach of White Oak Bayou. The study evaluated alternatives based on their potential for reducing flood risks, as well as their benefits for the environment, recreation and economic uplift. The cost and potential timeline for each alternative also were evaluated. (Alternatives that would increase flood risks were not considered.)”

Next steps for any longer-term project stemming from the study would include identifying stakeholders to participate in, and to fund, a future restoration project.

For more information, visit http://hcfcd.org/press-room/current-news/2017/10/study-compares-options-for-lower-white-oak-bayou-channel-restoration.

NTMP Plan Moves Forward with Temporary Speed Cushions by Michael Graves

Dear neighbors,

I wanted to inform you about the installation of the speed cushions you may have seen going in around the neighborhood. The Woodland Heights Civic Association board remains neutral about traffic calming, but it is important for us to convey correct information to the community.

Today I spoke to Khang Nguyen at the City of Houston Public Works & Engineering (PWE) department. He's given me the definitive information regarding the speed cushions. What follows is a step-by-step explanation of what is happening:

  1. Seventeen temporary asphalt speed cushions are being installed: one on Michaux, four on Watson, three on Beauchamp, two on Euclid, two on Bayland, one on Merrill, and four on Pecore.
  2. Yes, these are temporary speed cushions. They can be pulled up at any point and the street repaired.
  3. The streets are being milled in order to accept the speed cushions. Without milling, the asphalt can come loose. So grooves are milled into the streets.
  4. Because our streets are primarily asphalt, PWE determined that asphalt was better than rubber, which can sometimes come loose on an asphalt base (rubber is bolted, whereas asphalt adheres through melting.)
  5. Also, rubber can come loose with high volume traffic. In some locations, PWE measured high use and felt asphalt was best.
  6. Once milling is done, asphalt cushion installation will start right away, possibly even today. They will finish a few streets each day, so it may be finished by mid-next week.
  7. Once the speed cushions are installed, PWE will paint striping on them for visibility.
  8. After roughly 90 days (September/October), PWE will complete a second traffic study assessing the effectiveness of the cushions.
  9. The traffic study will examine three things: overall speed, enhanced or reduced traffic volume, and traffic shifting to other streets.
  10. Once the study is complete, PWE will hold a public hearing and collect comments again. This will be around November/December.
  11. At that point, the neighborhood could (a) accept all of the new speed cushions, (b) ask than some be removed but others remain, or (c) reject all of the new speed cushions.
  12. Based on those comments, they will then take the study to the City Council for final approval. If the council agrees that the speed cushions are working, they become permanent.
  13. If, however, the community or council rejects the speed cushions, they will be removed and the roads patched to their prior state.

That's the entire process, as detailed by Khang Nguyen at PWE.

Matt Johnson
WHCA VP Infrastructure

Houston High-Speed Rail Watch Proposal by Michael Graves

You may recall that Alicia Nuzzie of Houston High-Speed Rail Watch made a presentation to the WHCA General Meeting on May 9th. They followed up on that appearance, sending WHCA a copy of their detailed position paper along with a map of their proposal.

Executive Summary

If the proposed Texas Bullet Train or HSR plans were to move forward, we are advocating for an elevated METRORail (light rail line) that would run down the center lanes of I-10 to connect HSR's end terminus near the Northwest Transit Center with downtown. We believe this light rail connection would unify scattered strands of Houston's public transportation network and facilitate connectivity to downtown for HSR riders, without adversely affecting neighborhood communities. It would also serve Houston-area commuters and promote a reduction of cars on the road. Plus, with a modest number of stops, it becomes an express rail line attractive to both local commuters and high-speed rail riders traveling into downtown.

For more information visit the Houston High-Speed Rail Watch web site and download their position paper.

The I-45 Project – Planning Stage is coming to an end! by Michael Graves

From the Editor - WH neighbor Jim West has made a huge effort to stay abreast of TxDOTs plans for I-45 expansion. What follows is derived from his most recent update posted to NextDoor, reproduced here with permission.


The I-45 Project – Planning Stage is coming to an end! This next meeting is a HEARING - much different from the public meetings that TxDOT has been holding. 

This HEARING is the last meeting where the public will be heard! After a short comment period following the hearing, nothing else will go on record about the project. 

After the Hearing, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) will be completed – estimated to be complete next year – in 2018. Then a R.O.D. (Record of Decision) – also in 2018. And TxDOT will immediately start acquiring Right-of-way where needed and finish designs. 1st phase of construction will begin on Segment 3 (downtown) – estimated to start in 2020. 

There are only 2 HEARINGS scheduled at this time. You may remember that normally there were 3 meetings including one held at Jeff Davis High School (now Northside High School). Northside is currently being renovated so no meeting can be held there. We are asking TxDOT for a meeting that is convenient to Segment 2… but so far, no luck. 

As a quick summary, there are 3 Segments involved in the project:

  • Segment 1 (610 to Beltway 8) 
  • Segment 2 (610 to I-10)
  • Segment 3 (the Downtown Loop) 

We are currently in the final year of an approximately 12-year planning phase. TxDOT has held 4 public meetings – in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Part of this project, is the re-routing of I-45 at Pierce Elevated and moving it to be coincident with I-10 on the north side of downtown and coincident with US-59 on the east side of Downtown. Directly east of George Brown Convention both US-59 and I-45 will be below-grade.

This is a major project that is estimated to cost between $6 Billion and $7 Billion, WITHOUT right-of-way costs included. 

I am part of the I-45 Coalition, which is an all-volunteer group that was formed to address issues related to the planned construction of I-45 and to work with TxDOT to ensure that the pending construction comply with these 3 tenets:

  1. No expansion beyond the existing right-of-way
  2. Alternative means of transportation must be explored
  3. No negative impact on the neighborhoods quality of life.

We have not been very successful in these 3 tenets...but we have helped improve the project. 

Regarding ROW in Segment 1 – 212 acres of land will be taken; Segment 2 – 19 acres of land and in Segment 3 – 79 acres of land. 

In Segment 2 – the North St. Bridge will be removed. The main roadway of I-45 will be raised to almost grade level at North St. so it is impossible with the current engineering to have any bridge there. 

If you have commented or attended any of the prior meetings before, you should have received, or will soon receive notification via USPS of the 2 meetings locations from TxDOT. 

Hearings: Locations & Dates

Tuesday, May 9th
St. Pius X High School
811 W. Donovan Street
Houston, TX 77091

Thursday, May 11th
Houston Community College – Central Campus
1300 Holman Street - San Jacinto Building
Houston, TX 77004 

Displays will be available for viewing at 5:30 pm, formal hearing starts at 6:30 pm. 

Please review TxDOT’s plan, maps & designs on their website, www.ih45northandmore.com. As of today, the documents that will be shown at the hearing are NOT on the website…but they should be there soon. 

One major concern I have was in the announcement of the public hearing that was on the web-site. It states…”Some of the design changes are not included in the current evaluation of alternatives …. but will be presented at the Public Hearing and included and evaluated in the Final Environmental Impact Statement”. This means that TxDOT could present changes at the Public Hearing that folks will see for the very 1st time. Then we must evaluate all consequences of the change(s) and speak up at the very same meeting…which is the final meeting on the project! 

This seems to be exactly opposite method of trying to build consensus with the taxpayers and stakeholders. There will be a comment period to June 3rd or later (I haven’t seen the official deadline) … but the whole purpose of having meetings for more than 10 years with the community is to develop a project that the public agrees with and supports … last minute changes do not support that concept. 

It seems that now that we are down to the final meeting/HEARING – it is simple wrong to propose design changes that NO ONE HAS SEEN. Hopefully, any changes that TxDOT presents are ones that the community have requested…but it seems like proposed design changes should at least be on the TxDOT web site months before the HEARING! ...not the day of the HEARING! 

It is critical that you attend either Hearing (or both!) This truly is the last opportunity to have your voice heard! Please stay involved or get involved!

Neighborhood Traffic Management Update by Michael Graves

Neighbors,

Yesterday, we received word from the City of Houston Public Works that they are moving forward with the installation of the speed cushions, based on feedback from the neighborhood.  The email from Public Works is below:

"Below is a summary of the public feedback on the latest proposed speed cushion plan (presented to the residents at the 12/06/2016 public meeting).
After careful consideration of the latest feedback as well as comments from the previous public meetings, the Department decided to move forward with the installation of the speed cushions. Here are the next steps.
  1. We’ll collect additional speed and volume data before the cushions are installed.
  2. After the cushions are in place and the traffic settled down, we’ll collect speed and volume data to determine the cushions’ effectiveness and impacts.
  3. We’ll conduct another public meeting to present the before and after data, and recommend modifications to the plan if necessary.
Please notify the residents of our decision."

Matt Johnson
VP Infrastructure, WHCA

 

REMINDER: Traffic Meeting Dec. 6, 7PM @ Hogg by Mark Sternfels

Don't forget about the upcoming Traffic Meeting hosted by the City of Houston at the Hogg Middle School Cafeteria on Tuesday, Dec. 6th, 7PM. If you did not receive the most recent traffic meeting notice in the mail from the City of Houston you may download a copy here or simply follow this link to comment online. Even if you comment online you may still want to download a copy of the comment card as it also includes a map of the new proposal. You will have 14-days to submit your comment after the meeting (deadline: December 21, 2016).

This is a new plan put together by city engineers. Comments submitted based on previous plans do not carryover. IF YOU WANT YOUR COMMENT TO COUNT YOU MUST SUBMIT A NEW ONE — NEW PLAN, NEW COMMENTS.

City of Houston: Traffic Meeting by Mark Sternfels

The WHCA is sharing this on behalf of the City of Houston. Any questions about the meeting, the provisions of the traffic plan, or the comment form should be directed to the Department of Public Works and Engineering. The Notice of Public Meeting will also be sent out from the City via mail to all residents affected by the proposed Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan per city ordinance. (Download the CoH Meeting Notice)

Based upon the comments received from the previous proposal, the City's engineers will be presenting their latest proposed revision of the plan during the meeting to be held on December 6, 2016 at 7pm.  The meeting will be held at Hogg Middle School's cafeteria.

Please note that a NEW comment period will follow the meeting and all residents are requested to provide new comments, as the city does not amalgamate old comments (from previous plans) into the new commenting period. Please DO NOT submit comments before the December 6 meeting.

Save the Date: Neighborhood Traffic Meeting Dec. 6th by Mark Sternfels

Mark your calendars for 7pm on Dec. 6th at Hogg Middle School for the next public hearing with city engineers regarding the most recent traffic management proposal. The City of Houston will mail you an official meeting notice so please be on the lookout for it. Be sure to check our website, Facebook page, or Nextdoor for new information on this topic as it develops.

Download the most recent traffic plan.

Yard Debris and Flooding by Mark Sternfels

The residents of the 2400 Julian St. condos have suffered several flooding issues over the past year. Some of the floods have been attributed to tree-trimming debris being washed down the creek that runs parallel to Julian St. (between the houses on Julian & White Oak Dr.), resulting in a blockage of the culvert which runs underneath the road at the condos. Residents whose properties back onto the creek are kindly reminded to ensure that no tree-debris is left in close proximity to the creek to help avoid damage to nearby homes during heavy rainfall.

Questions or comments? Contact WHCA Infrastructure, Phil Teague.

Traffic Program Update by Mark Sternfels

Thank you to everybody who took the time to submit comments to the city regarding the proposed Traffic Management plan. Upon review of all of the comments submitted to the City, Mr. Weatherford, Director of PWE, has determined that there is sufficient justification for the neighborhood to remain in the program. City engineers will draft a new modified plan based upon your comments and the City will invite all neighbors to a new public meeting once the plan is ready for public viewing. No timeline has been given for when that new meeting could occur.

Questions or comments? Contact WHCA Infrastructure, Phil Teague.