Oct 14, 2022 - News

Houston parents organize for a safe walk to school

A lime green sign marks where people cross the street in Montrose

Kids cross the road along West Clay Street in Montrose. Photo: Jay R. Jordan/Axios

A group of Montrose parents are fed up with dangerous pedestrian routes surrounding a bustling school just west of downtown Houston.

Driving the news: Dozens of parents from Wharton Dual Language Academy met Wednesday with officials from the city, Harris County and the Montrose Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) to express concerns over pedestrian infrastructure near the school.

  • Parents want funding for solutions, like raised crosswalks, signaled pedestrian intersections and heightened enforcement.

What they're saying: "Kids can't safely make it to school," Wharton parent and organizer Mehdi Rais tells Axios. "A large part of that is because of the traffic and lack of infrastructure and enforcement to support kids being able to walk around this neighborhood."

  • Rais walks his two children to Wharton every morning and crosses Montrose Boulevard, a four-lane road where drivers are known for speeding and paying little mind to pedestrians in marked crosswalks.

What's happening: The Montrose TIRZ, which uses a portion of tax dollars to fund various projects in the neighborhood, is drafting designs for a makeover of Montrose Boulevard in the coming years, which could incorporate the parents' recommendations.

  • "Wharton's timing is, shall we say, good," TIRZ chair Joe Webb tells Axios.
  • The city has also been somewhat responsive in addressing some of the parents' complaints, like re-striping a crosswalk across Montrose Boulevard at West Clay Street and adding signage indicating the crossing.

Yes, but: Montrose Boulevard is one of many trouble spots pointed out by parents, and some of the more costly remedies sought by parents are still up in the air.

  • Other areas of concern include the intersection of Stanford and West Gray, where parked cars make it difficult for pedestrians to see traffic, and the general lack of reliable sidewalks near the school.
  • "Our kids have the least voice in this process," Rais said. "[Schools are] one of the most important places to prioritize projects moving forward. We emphasized that, and I think they heard it. I do think they want to help solve the problem in an expedient manner."

What we're watching: The Montrose TIRZ will hold a public comment meeting on the Montrose Boulevard project in November.

  • Rais says he and other parents plan to attend.

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