October 19, 2007
Trees on Kirby update

Here's some more info about the Kirby widening compromise that was reached recently.

Trees for Houston, the city of Houston and two Upper Kirby District groups outlined a plan leaders from each group said would save as many trees and create as much "pedestrian space" as possible within the parameters of what would meet with city approval.

Construction on that segment will begin on the west side of the street in April -- about three months later than previously scheduled.

"If you're going to have six lanes, that's as well as we can do," Bill Coats, president of Trees for Houston, said of the agreement. "It ought to save most of the trees."


Coats said, as it turned out, the TIRZ had proposed a four-lane Kirby "a couple of years back," but the proposal was rejected by the city. As a result, the follow-up plan was "by-the-books" for a 100-foot right of way.

He described what would have resulted without the compromise as "somebody with a manual saying 'cut 'em all down.'"

Public Works Director Mike Marcotte said for safety reasons the city would not have allowed anything less than the agreed on 10-foot wide inside lanes, and 11-foot outside lanes to accommodate buses.

He said Kirby had to remain six lanes, because that is required by the city's Freeway and Thoroughfare Plan and is the Houston's only major continuous north-south roadway.

I guess it depends on how you define "only major continuous north-south roadway", because there isn't one bidirectional road that runs all the way from the South Loop to the North Loop. Kirby can get you from the South Loop to Allen Parkway, but no further north. Shepherd/Durham/Greenbriar traverse the distance, but with one-ways and merges and a discontinuity at Rice. Montrose/Studemont/Studewood/North Main gets you from Mecom Fountain to the North Loop. Speaking as someone who lives near the North Loop and works near the South Loop, it's a pain in the butt, and forces a lot of local traffic onto 45 and 59 besides. Maybe when the North Line is built, I can take the train instead. In the meantime, I have a lot of not-so-good options.

From the Things That Surely Sound Worse Than They Are department:

In order to protect trees during construction, a process called "water sawing" will be used to trim roots away from the construction area.

On behalf of the trees, may I just say "ouch". And that I hope no one tells the Vice President about this - wouldn't want to give him any ideas, you know. Thanks to Swamplot for the heads up.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 19, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston