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Texas Department of Transportation - Houston
7600 Washington Avenue
City of Friendswood Downtown Economic Development Corporation
Economic Development Coordinator
Friendswood Downtown District Pedestrian Access and Safety Enhancements
FM 518 (or S. Friendswood Dr.)
From FM 2351 (E. Edgewood Dr.) to Cowards Creek (just southeast of Whispering Pines Ave)
The primary problems include pedestrian safety and accessibility within Downtown Friendswood along the FM 518 corridor (S. Friendswood Dr). The improvements include new sidewalks to fill gaps in the existing network, updated sidewalks to replace those in unsafe or poor condition, ADA curb ramps, enhanced signalized intersections, and updated crosswalks at all downtown intersections. FM 518, a TxDOT facility, is the main street corridor of Downtown Friendswood as well as the central gathering place of the community. The existing pedestrian environment along the corridor is disjointed, inconsistent, unsafe, blighted in some places, and needs a comprehensive overhaul that provides an inviting and safe Downtown experience. People of all ages and abilities do not feel safe walking to destinations Downtown, and with an 18% senior population in Downtown, access and safety are very important to the community.
The Friendswood Downtown Economic Development Corporation (FDEDC) recently completed the Friendswood Downtown District Improvement Plan, adopted by Friendswood City Council on October 1, 2018. This plan serves as FDEDC’s implementation guide identifying needs and solutions that will benefit the community, residents, businesses, and set Friendswood apart depicting the downtown area as the heart/center of the City. During the planning process, public engagement results identified a strong desire for safe, walkable development and destinations, including more pronounced safe crossing locations across FM 518. The projects included in this TIP application came from the Downtown District Improvement Plan as priority projects the FDEDC will be pursuing for implementation.
The Improvement Plan presents an inventory of the existing sidewalks, crosswalks, and curb ramps, and identifies locations where no sidewalks exist, where sidewalks are sub-standard (not accessible and/or in poor condition), and where ramps and street-crossings are unsafe, needing improvements (see sidewalk conditions in map). Maps and photos in the plan illustrate the disconnected patchwork of sidewalks lining FM 518, the spine of Downtown. In the zoning ordinance, the City requires new developments fronting FM 518 to provide a 15-foot parkway from the back of the curb that includes an eight-foot brick paver sidewalk for pedestrian and public access. The FM 518 parcels that have recently redeveloped under the ordinance are inviting, walkable, and support a cohesive downtown environment. Unfortunately, there are numerous parcels along the corridor that will not be redeveloped in the foreseeable future, and therefore the patchwork remains without a comprehensive approach to sidewalk improvements. Project location, existing conditions maps/visuals, survey summary, zoning ordinance, and typical section are provided in Attachment #1.
Through the Friendswood Downtown District Improvement Plan, the community supports downtown public infrastructure improvements that enhance walkability including sidewalks, lighting, landscaping, better crosswalks, and other intersection enhancements. The existing pedestrian infrastructure is disjointed, uninviting, and physically unsafe as it lacks continuity and ADA-accessible features. FM 518 is the primary corridor of the Downtown District spanning from FM 2351 to Coward’s Creek near Whispering Pines Ave. The City desires consistent and inviting pedestrian infrastructure along that corridor supporting a walkable Downtown District for residents and businesses, supporting economic development.
The proposed safety and accessibility enhancements include constructing 10,800 linear feet of continuous eight-foot wide brick paver sidewalks to fill in gaps and replace sub-standard (narrow, broken, poor) sidewalks along FM 518 within the Friendswood Downtown District from FM 2351 to Coward’s Creek (refer to Attachment #1 map of sidewalk conditions). Improvements also include reconstruction of approximately 123 curb ramps providing ADA accessibility at driveways and intersections, as well as replacing over 50 driveways that need to be updated supporting ADA compliance and continuity of an interconnected sidewalk network. The crosswalks at the six signalized intersections within the Downtown District will be improved with stamped concrete and new striping (24 crosswalks total), as well as five of the six signalized intersections will replace the existing span wire with black powder coated mast arms. The intersections include FM 2351 (or Edgewood Dr.), East Shadowbend (only crosswalks as mast arm intersection already exists), E. Spreading Oaks, Clearview Ave., East Castlewood Ave., and Whispering Pines Ave.
Per the City of Friendswood’s Design Criteria Manual, the Downtown District has specific brick paver sidewalk design guidelines to support a standard and cohesive downtown look and feel. It is important to note that FM 518 is a TxDOT facility and coordination with TxDOT staff has occurred and will be necessary through project implementation. The brick-paver sidewalks proposed as a part of this TIP application would support the City’s Design Criteria Manual for Downtown sidewalks, but through coordination with TxDOT staff and understanding of a concrete-only sidewalk standard, it has been determined that the City of Friendswood will be financially responsible for the extra cost of the pavers beyond the price of standard TxDOT concrete sidewalks. The cost of the pavers as an expense and extra enhancement can be seen within the budget worksheet designated as additional match by the City. It is important to note that the City of Friendswood is responsible for maintenance of the brick-paver sidewalks, within and outside of TxDOT right-of-way along the FM 518 corridor.
The proposed recommendations are illustrated in Attachment #1, mobility recommendations.
The primary outcomes will provide a safe, walkable, inviting Downtown with crosswalks, intersections and new sidewalks that will allow people to safely and comfortably get around and to/from destinations Downtown. The physical improvements will benefit Friendswood residents of all ages and abilities, local businesses, civic amenities, and support Downtown synergy and growth.
Friendswood strives to differentiate itself from being known as just another suburb of Houston. Friendswood competes with Baybrook Mall and nearby cities when attracting commercial development, which is needed to help diversify the property tax base that is 90 percent dependent upon residential property taxes. The pedestrian access and safety improvements will not only provide a safe, comfortable place to walk, but it will help overcome blighted areas in downtown, help with community and economic development, aesthetically improve the downtown area, and spur commercial investment and sales tax revenue in the city. Like an H-GAC Livable Centers study, the Friendswood Downtown District Improvement Plan encourages investments in a defined “center” of the community where concentrations of businesses, homes, and civic amenities allow for walkable and accessible destinations, resulting in less reliance on single occupancy vehicles.
The Downtown District is the heart of the community where Friendswood residents gather throughout the year for shopping, restaurants, festivals, parades, places of worship, (see Attachment #1 Downtown Events) and is home to City Hall, the Friendswood Public Library, Senior Activity Center, museums, and the widely popular Stevenson Park. There are at least fourteen annual city-wide events held downtown that can bring up to 10,000 people to the District. These large events present challenges for people walking to or between venues as well as an influx of cars with limited parking. A recommendation from the Downtown Improvement Program is to do a shared parking study to coordinate parking between businesses and for major events. The results of that study will address concerns specific to parking for the events, but once people are out of their cars, it is important to also provide people with the option to park once and walk safely and comfortably between destinations.
Overall, the pedestrian access and safety enhancement projects presented here will provide innumerable benefits to the Friendswood community for generations and will support the Downtown District’s synergy towards a more cohesive, walkable, inviting, and thriving downtown. The amount of support this project has received thus far from residents, elected officials, the school district, and even a state congressman are proof that the momentum to move forward with this project is a worthy community-wide and regional investment. A post in the Community Impact newspaper illustrates the same:https://communityimpact.com/houston/pearland-friendswood/city-county/2018/10/11/friendswood-downtown-plan/.
Less than $100 million
View Uploaded File: Attachment 1 Project Information #12.pdf
Categorical Exclusion (CE)
Parcels will not need to be acquired/purchased, but easement agreements will need to be in place for at least 35 properties according to preliminary mapping.
12 of the 35 parcels/property owners have either submitted letters stating they will allow the City to construct and maintain an 8-foot sidewalk along their property, or the property is going to be redeveloped soon and will provide updated sidewalks. Ten additional property owners provided letters stating they would be OK with providing an easement, even though they may not need to considering the availability of public right-of-way. Over twenty letters have been received total. See Attachment #2 after question #9 below.
View Uploaded File: Attachment 2 Project Readiness Question 6_ROW Letters.pdf
View Uploaded File: Attachment 3 Project Devt Timeline Friendswood Pedestrian and Safety Enhancements.pdf
In May 2016, The City of Friendswood voters approved a one-eighth of one cent Type B sales tax to establish the Friendswood Downtown Economic Development Corporation (FDEDC) that can undertake projects that promote new or expand business enterprises within the Downtown District including but not limited to streets, targeted infrastructure, sidewalks, pedestrian amenities including lighting, benches, signage, and other related public improvements, and the maintenance and operations expenses for any of the above-described projects. The mission of the FDEDC is to communicate and engage with Friendswood citizens, make well-planned and strategic recommendations to City Council regarding improvements to the Downtown District, and exercise fiduciary responsibilities to the tax payers.
Since the inception of the FDEDC, Downtown Friendswood has seen economic growth including a handful of new commercial developments along the FM 518 corridor that provide retail, restaurants, and other businesses that includes over 200,000 square feet of development planned or underway. The recent adoption of the Friendswood Downtown Improvement Plan (October 1, 2018) reinforces the FDEDC’s commitment to providing strategic public improvement project recommendations using the sales tax revenue the District receives annually. Unfortunately, the current amount of sales tax revenue collected each year will not be enough to implement the Downtown Improvement Plan projects presented in this TIP application for another ten years or more if paying 100% through FDEDC funds. Leveraging the sales tax revenue (such as through the TIP) will allow Friendswood to implement these pedestrian and safety enhancements within at least four years, providing meaningful, publicly supported projects that create a safe, walkable downtown in the short-term planning horizon and will allow the FDEDC to focus its resources on other priority projects and programs over the long-term.
The Friendswood community is ready and excited to have these pedestrian and safety enhancements implemented in their downtown. The political will, the financial commitment, and the public support are strong today, and the physical ability to construct this project is feasible by fiscal year 2023 or before. The FDEDC is committed to implementing these projects and is ready to coordinate with TxDOT as soon as funds are available.
The recently adopted Friendswood Downtown Improvement Plan can be viewed online here: https://evogov.s3.amazonaws.com/media/124/media/179351.pdf
View Uploaded File: Attachment 4 Friendswood GIS.zip
View Uploaded File: Attachment 5_Friendswood Project Budget.xlsx
View Uploaded File: Friendswood_Safety_BCAs.zip
View Uploaded File: Friendswood delay-benefits-template.xlsx
View Uploaded File: Friendswood Emissions Benefits Template Active-Transportation.xlsx
View Uploaded File: Friendswood_BCA_Additional Information.zip
View Uploaded File: Jobs FM 518 Friendswood.pdf
0.50 tons per year or 1.37 kgs/day
0.12 tons per year or 0.33 kgs/day
901 - 1000
The Friendswood Downtown District Improvement Plan
Houston-Galveston Area Council