Street Reconstruction Project Could Tie Up Traffic For A Year

Jul. 28, 2014Houston Public Media

The public will have the chance to learn about a major street reconstruction project at an upcoming town hall meeting. That project is expected to tie up traffic in a busy part of Houston for about a year. 
At the Red Lion Pub near Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, people take refuge from the chaos outside, and that’s the rush hour traffic on South Shepherd Drive.

Customer Chuck Bronson knows all about it.

“A lot of erratic driving, a lot of slow driving due to the potholes, a lot of people on their phones attempting to find alternate routes because the traffic is either A, so bad, or B, they’re tired of the bumps.”

This troublesome part of South Shepherd is just a small segment of one of Houston’s major north-south thoroughfares. Drivers have two lanes in each direction, along with the occasional turning lane.

The street is lined with local businesses and drivers have to watch out for vehicles pulling out of parking lots. There’s also heavy residential traffic.

A few blocks up the street, we step outside to see for ourselves. Scott Howard of the North Montrose Civic Association describes the scene.

“Well right now we’re on the corner of Shepherd and West Gray. This is sort of the typical, sort of 4:30 afternoon traffic during the week when people are starting to go home.

Howard also lives nearby, and he says sometimes it gets so backed up that drivers try to find other routes.

“You’ll find motorists that cut off into the neighborhoods and try to bypass this if they live in the neighborhood. But generally if you have to use the street you stay on it and you just try to learn to be patient.”

Starting next month, drivers will need lots of patience as the city begins a year-long project to rebuild South Shepherd.

The work will cost about $21 million, and it runs a little over a mile, from Buffalo Bayou to Westheimer.

Crews will install new storm sewer lines to help drainage. They’ll also put in new water lines.

Once that’s done, the street will be resurfaced, and that work includes new curbs and sidewalks. South Shepherd will also get new traffic signals.

And since there’s so much that needs to be done, the city’s Public Works Department says some crews will be working around the clock, seven days a week.

Howard doesn’t have a problem with that. He says with Houston’s growing population, the city has to improve its infrastructure and that means tearing up streets.

But back at the pub customer Simon Leggett says despite the improvements, drivers will still face a lot of congestion.

“I’m not sure how much benefit you’re going to get out of it, just going through and repaving it. Unless you’re going to add another lane just leave it alone.”

City officials declined to make anyone available for an interview ahead of a public meeting that’s set for Wednesday.

That meeting is at 6:00 PM at St. Anne’s Church. That’s at 2140 Westheimer.