On the Kirby Drive Storm Drainage and Mobility Improvements Project, however, Trees for Houston is making a mistake using the issue about the trees along Kirby to obscure two more critical issues: street flooding and mobility and safety along one of our busiest and most vibrant residential and commercial streets.
Just last week, a 30-minute summer rain storm caused street flooding in the neighborhoods along Kirby Drive. If we had a sustained storm, let alone a catastrophic storm, like Tropical Storm Alison, most people would quickly trade the present trees along Kirby for the cars they would have to abandon or the homes they would have to pump out. We didn't create this drainage problem, but we are here to improve it.
The number of cars traveling on Kirby in both directions has increased beyond anyone's expectations, and the new developments currently under construction will only add more cars to the road. It is unsafe for both cars and pedestrians. The new design for Kirby will increase the mobility and safety of this important street. Period.
We are undertaking this project so that we can create a model thoroughfare for the next 50 years. Indeed, the existing trees will be replaced in greater number. We are un-dertaking this project because when we balance all of the goals that this project must address, we realize that we need to replace trees in order to accomplish all objectives. The remaining right of way will be much more pedestrian-friendly, the power lines will be buried underground and there will be more trees along and in this important boulevard. Approximately nine out of 10 landowners along Kirby Drive agree.
We applaud Trees for Houston and the worthy contributions it has made to our city over the years. We hope that we can continue to work with it in Houston's best interest. In the meantime, we are moving forward with a plan that takes a larger view and is the right thing to do.
chairman, Upper Kirby TIRZ (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) No. 19
On a related note, the subsequent letter raises an interesting point:
Think outside the curbs and shift some of the traffic load from Kirby to South Shepherd. If South Shepherd Drive from Richmond north to where it comes together with Kirby at Allen Parkway were slightly widened and improved, improvements to Kirby can be done without losing trees. It is a rare instance where two parallel streets come together, so the through traffic is indifferent to the actual street taken. At the southern end, both streets connect directly to the freeway access roads, giving motorists essentially identical outcomes.
If it is done my way, the storm sewers get built, the trees stay put, Shepherd moves up in quality and the redundancy means that a problem on one route does not totally shut down the north-south flow.