A walk through four districts, part 2: Now with pictures

In yesterday’s post I described my weird idea to take a stroll into four Congressional districts, something I decided I could do after taking a close look at the new map in Houston. On Wednesday, a bit more than a year after I first conceived of this silly idea, I finally did it. Here’s a little photo essay of my journey.

I started out as noted at the Leonel Castillo Community Center, on Quitman at South, just east of I-45.


This was in CD29, but I wasn’t going to be there for long. I intentionally started at a point near the boundary with CD18 – this walk was going to be long enough, I didn’t need to make it any longer. As I walked over the Quitman bridge, at some point I passed from CD29 into CD18. Where exactly that line is I have no idea – I have joked before about the crazy way that CD35 is drawn between Austin and San Antonio, and that you can cross into other Congressional districts by changing lanes on I-35 – but it’s there somewhere. We’ll discuss this a bit more later, as it’s a bit more relevant when there are houses and businesses there along the border. Here it’s just traffic.


West of I-45 on Quitman and I am unquestionably in CD18. The White Oak hike and bike trail beckoned me to the south.


As I passed Houston Avenue and Quitman became White Oak, I had a choice to make. As you saw on my Google map, my walking path was along White Oak. But the sidewalk isn’t consistent, there’s a lot of cars whooshing past, and the hike and bike trail will get me where I want to go as well. What would you choose?


The choice was easy for me, though I should note that the path to the left that led down to the trail wasn’t paved all the way and I had to step carefully to avoid getting all muddy. But it was worth it.


I didn’t even notice that heron as I was taking the picture. I only saw him later as I was putting this all together. Going this way gave me another excuse to walk across the new trail extension. The view of downtown from where the extension meets the MKT trail, especially on a gorgeous morning like Wednesday was, just can’t be beat.


Don’t ever let anyone trash Houston’s aesthetics. The MKT trail put me back on White Oak the street, and soon enough I reached Heights Boulevard, which is where CD18 ends and CD07 begins. But unlike the CD29/CD18 boundary along I-45, the exact location of that invisible line matters. As in, my belief was that the east side of Heights was still in CD18 while the west side was in CD07. I know these things have to exist somewhere but that will always be weird to me.


Yale Street, to my immediate right and visible as I crossed over the bayou again just south of I-10, is fully inside CD07. I started on the CD18 side of Heights but crossed to the CD07 side a bit before I reached I-10. When I reached Washington Avenue, I was at the southern border of CD18 and was going to be fully in CD07 for most of the rest of the trip.


I have to say, the sidewalks along this stretch of Washington Avenue were atrocious, especially after having been on the hike and bike trails as well as on Heights. Broken and occasionally missing, with utility poles right in the middle of a much narrower space – I could have only done this as a fully able-bodied person. I may do a separate post on that, but go see it for yourself if you can. One corollary to this is that I could have both shortened my walk and dodged fewer obstacles if I had taken a slightly different path. West of Shepherd, CD38 was only a few blocks to the south. I could have turned down Sandman, for example, and been in CD38 just before Shepherd and Durham merge together at Feagan.


But I stayed the course, and soon enough I had reached the traffic circle at Westcott.


That was the view from the west side of the circle, on what I believe was Arnot, though I didn’t see a street sign. It’s in CD38, whatever it was. Again, the boundary was likely somewhere in the middle of the road, in this case Westcott. Maybe if state law required that the state pay to create and install signs at every district border, we’d get slightly less goofy districts. Be that as it may, this is the end.

I’ll have a brief wrapup and a suggestion for further pedestrian research if you’re interested. Let me know what you thought of this little tour.

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3 Responses to A walk through four districts, part 2: Now with pictures

  1. voter_worker says:

    Interesting narration of an interesting trek. Thank you for the good read! Any trip of more than a half mile is very likely to involve traversing multiple voting precincts and numerous other boundary lines defining our multitude of electoral jurisdictions. Thanks to the EA’s staff, all of these jurisdictions are accurately embedded in the voter registration management software to create the capability to produce the correct ballot for each and every Harris County voter.

  2. Mainstream says:

    Voter Worker–I hope your confidence in the geomapping of the current software is well-placed. In the (distant) past I have discovered an entire apartment complex wrongly assigned to precinct 54 rather than 902 in my Heights neighborhood, a strange block in Spring Branch where house numbers were not sequential and some were wrongly assigned, and an area in Meyerland that got confused.

    The greater concern is that some election officials, when unable to get through on the election clerk telephone line on a busy election day in order to confirm the correct ballot style for a voter whose name does not appear in the electronic pollbook, will throw up their hands and just give a random assignment to the voter (and sometimes let them vote a regular, rather than provisional ballot). I think that is a training problem, though, and fortunately fairly rare.

  3. voter_worker says:

    Mainstream, I’m feeling confident because I didn’t see any stories about ballot style problems, addresses in wrong precincts, etc. following the most recent redistricting. From time to time in the past, these have been reported. I remember an ESD 9 problem in 2007, something with the Harris County Dept. of Education some years later, and a City of Baytown issue more recently. Undoubtedly very small errors are quickly resolved when discovered and don’t come to media attention. The scarcity of such stories gives me confidence. It wouldn’t surprise me that situations occur at polling places because of communications and training issues.

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