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Associate at the Goodman Corporation
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Greater Southeast Management District
Interim Executive Director
5445 Almeda Road, Suite 503
City of Houston
Division Manager, Transportation Planning
Caroline Street Pedestrian/Bicycle Infrastructure Improvements
US 59 to Hermann Drive
Mobility issues abound in the Museum District, ranging from automobile circulation and parking to pedestrian mobility and safety. The Museum Park Super Neighborhood, in partnership with the Greater Southeast Management District (Houston Southeast), is seeking ways to address these mobility issues, in part, by making walking within the Museum District a safer and more enjoyable activity. Caroline St is a signature pedestrian boulevard in the District, featuring a wide esplanade and a mature canopy of trees. The corridor is a key spine through the District, connecting Hermann Park at the south end of the corridor to numerous other world-class attractions, including museums and churches. Museums along the Caroline corridor include the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS), Buffalo Soldiers Museum, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Asia Society, Holocaust Museum, and the Clayton Genealogical Library. The southern end of the corridor is also home to Park Plaza Hospital, which was the first Houston hospital to treat AIDS patients and today serves a significant number of indigent and elderly patients. Also on Caroline, just north of the project boundary, is the Houston Community College, serving 27,000 students with affordable education. Two blocks to the northwest of the Caroline project area is the METRO Wheeler transit station, a hub for bus and light rail transit across the region, as well as the 10-acre Rice University property that will become the home of the newly announced “Innovation District.” This unique street is central to the Museum District experience and is instrumental in getting people from Downtown and Midtown into the Museum District and Hermann Park.
However, the condition of the back-of-curb pedestrian environment on Caroline is not commensurate with the important role the corridor plays in the movement of pedestrians through the District. Caroline is difficult to navigate for the able bodied, and completely impassable in some areas for those with reduced mobility. The sidewalks (4’ in most areas) are not up to current COH/ADA/Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations (TDLR) standards and are damaged and/or buckled from tree roots in several segments of the corridor. ADA ramps are also missing or damaged in multiple locations. Pedestrian lighting is not present. HCC students traveling by foot or bike to employment in the Texas Medical Center, area museums, restaurants, or other typical student jobs find a difficult environment along Caroline, as do mobility challenged patients of Park Plaza Hospital. Other pedestrian amenities that would make the area more functional for those who wish to walk, such as benches and trash receptacles, are also not present. There are also no accommodations for bicyclists. These conditions present unacceptable challenges to the thousands of pedestrians and bicyclists – be they tourists, residents, students, or hospital patients – who walk or bike on the corridor every year.
This project aims to connect the many destinations within the project area with multi-modal transit opportunities (METRO, biking, walking) and allow easier transit to and from the area, as well as within. The project consists of back-of-curb pedestrian improvements on both sides of Caroline Street between US 59 and Hermann Drive. Sidewalks will be widened to 6’ and upgraded to COH/ADA/Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations (TDLR) standards. Other improvements to be installed include pedestrian lighting, ADA ramps, landscaping and irrigation, benches, and trash receptacles. The project will incorporate Low-Impact Development (LID) storm water treatments along the corridor including raingardens and bioswales. Additionally, sharrow lane markings and signage will be added along the corridor to facilitate the use of Caroline St by bicyclists.
These improvements will directly connect with the US 59 segment to be dropped below grade in Museum Park for the TxDOT US 59/IH 69/IH 45 project, creating “cap” north-south and east-west mobility connections to important adjacent destinations, including EaDo, Third Ward, Emancipation Park, Project Row Houses, and others previously mentioned. These TxDOT improvements, along with the Rice Univ Innovation District, will create connections and establish a true crossroads among some of Houston’s most important neighborhoods that are culturally rich and diverse and offer exceptional educational and economic opportunities.
It should be noted that this project constitutes the initial steps in implementing an even grander vision for Caroline and the connections it will facilitate. Caroline is the spine of the overarching Culture Trail defined in the Museum Park Livable Centers Study, connecting north and south along Caroline; east to Emancipation Park, Project Row Houses, Texas Southern Univ, Univ of Houston, and the Bayou Greenways; and west to the Menil, Univ of St. Thomas, and Houston’s bikeways. The Culture Trail will also include enhanced landscaping elements that will allow for outdoor demonstrations or living laboratories in collaboration with the Health Museum, HMNS, and the Children’s Museum. This will result in educational opportunities for thousands of children and adults who visit this neighborhood annually as individuals, on field trips, with Scout troops, and visitors from abroad. Implementation of these landscaping techniques will also result in significantly reduced maintenance costs (reduced mowing, fuel, labor, and equipment), reduced use of water, energy, pesticides, herbicides, and other environmental toxins.
The Caroline Promenade is intended to be a model for a different approach to landscaping the thousands of acres of urban public lands in Houston and across the country. Full development of the Caroline Promenade will occur as funds become available following the implementation of this initial TIP project, which will lay the foundation.
The outcomes to be achieved by the project are multi-faceted:
Improve connectivity, access, and mobility – Pedestrian improvements along this key corridor will facilitate connectivity among the many points of interest in the area, as well as facilitate access to regional transit. The corridor is two blocks from the METRO Wheeler transit station, a regional nexus for bus and light rail transit in Houston, and within ½ mile of 44 bus stops served by 10 bus routes. Making pedestrian travel easier and more attractive along the corridor will also contribute to alleviating the congestion and parking problems that plague the Museum District on a daily basis. The upgraded, wider sidewalks will accommodate higher volumes of pedestrians and make the pedestrian environment more comfortable, also contributing to the number of users who choose to make shorter trips by foot rather than by car.
Increase safety – Modern, wide sidewalks, proper ADA ramps, and improved crosswalks will make the pedestrian realm safer for walkers, those in wheelchairs, those pushing strollers, and those with reduced mobility. Complaints are frequent regarding the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists on this intensely pedestrian segment of Caroline. Bicycle riders are often seen careening between sidewalks and parked cars, seeking whatever space can be found on which to ride. The Museum Park Super Neighborhood worked to add BCycle stations in Museum Park, yet safe spaces to ride still need to be defined, as described in the Museum Park Livable Centers Study and the Houston Bike Plan. Caroline north from HCC to Downtown is being rebuilt by the Midtown Mgmt District, and includes all necessary pedestrian safety and comfort elements. Completing the corridor by funding the project area within the Greater Southeast Mgmt District will provide continuity throughout the entire corridor and, more importantly, significantly enhance safety for thousands of users annually.
Facilitate economic development – Research has shown that improving walkability can increase property values of residential and commercial properties. Additionally, because this corridor is within one of Houston’s most heavily visited tourist districts, the improvement to the pedestrian realm will leave a positive impression on visitors and may encourage them to linger and enjoy the area, presenting more opportunities for them to spend money in the city. These improvements will also encourage much needed investment in cafes and small businesses in this tourist area.
Facilitate biking – The inclusion of bicycle shared-lane (sharrow) markings on this low-volume corridor will encourage biking as a form of transportation along the corridor. The proposed bicycle improvements will further advance the implementation of the COH Bike Plan recommendations and close existing gaps on the City’s bicycle network.
Less than $100 million
View Uploaded File: 1 Caroline Ltr of Funding Commitment.pdf
Categorical Exclusion (CE)
(c)(22) – Projects that would take place entirely within the existing operational ROW
View Uploaded File: 11 Caroline City of Houston LOS.pdf
View Uploaded File: 4 Caroline Project Dev Timeline.xlsx
A consultant for planning/pre-design work has been selected as of September 2018.
No major environmental impacts are expected.
Coordination was conducted with TxDOT during the development of the Museum Park Livable Centers Plan, of which the Caroline project is a part. Scoping for the Caroline project has been ongoing with TxDOT as it relates to the US 59/IH 69/IH 45 project. TxDOT is an active partner in creating mobility improvements across Caroline, Main, Fannin, San Jacinto, and other north-south corridors to create park-like caps and establish important connections with the Wheeler Station transit hub.
This project, if funded, would be implemented through the District’s FTA program via a transfer of funding. This project would be an eligible FTA activity.
A utility evaluation will be completed as part of the planning/pre-design work to be done by the consultant selected in September 2018. Utilities will be adjusted to mitigate potential conflicts prior to and/or during construction. The standard utility coordination process with the City of Houston will be followed. Adjustments will be funded by the Greater Southeast Management District.
No ROW is necessary for this project.
Public involvement activities: The 2017 Joint Infrastructure Plan, jointly developed between the Greater Southeast Management District and the OST/Almeda Corridors Redevelopment Authority (TIRZ #7), delineated 21 priority projects that the two entities desire to pursue funding for and implement, including the Caroline St pedestrian improvements. Extensive public outreach was undertaken as part of the development of the plan, including two public meetings in March 2016 and direct contact with more than 45 individual stakeholders representing approximately 40 community organizations and other entities.
The Museum Park Livable Centers study, completed in 2017, also emphasizes the importance of the Caroline corridor and includes the construction of pedestrian improvements along the corridor as one of 14 project recommendations. Further, in this plan the Caroline corridor is also a key component of a larger project known as the Culture Trail, which is a planned strategy to cohesively string together the cultural icons of the Museum District and surrounding areas by establishing a visual pedestrian path along several of the area’s most significant corridors. Public outreach for the plan was designed to engage as many stakeholders as possible. Museum Park residents, civic leaders, museum representatives, faith leaders, educators, business owners, elected officials, and the Greater Southeast and Midtown Management Districts were provided with numerous opportunities and avenues to engage in the planning process for the study. Three public meetings were held between September 2015 and May 2016.
View Uploaded File: GSMD Caroline TIP Readiness Materials.zip
View Uploaded File: GSMD Caroline Street MPK map.zip
View Uploaded File: 2 Caroline H-GAC template budget.xlsx
View Uploaded File: Transit-Active-Transportation-Safety-Benefits-caroline.xlsx
View Uploaded File: delay-benefits-caroline.xlsx
View Uploaded File: Active-Transportation-Emissions-Benefits-caroline.xlsx
View Uploaded File: GSMD Caroline Supporting files.zip
View Uploaded File:
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The proposed project is recommended in the 2017 Joint Infrastructure Development Plan, developed by the Greater Southeast Management District and the OST/Almeda Corridors Redevelopment Authority (TIRZ #7). The Museum Park Livable Centers study, completed in 2017, also emphasizes the importance of the Caroline corridor and includes the construction of pedestrian improvements along the corridor as one of 14 project recommendations.
The Joint Infrastructure Development Plan and Museum Park Livable Centers Plan are included in the Readiness Documentation for this project application.
Houston-Galveston Area Council