Jan 13, 2023 - News

Houston's Third Ward bike lane could be reimagined

A cyclist traverses along Blodgett Street as construction cones dot the street

Houston's newest bike lane might not come to fruition. Photo: Jay R. Jordan/Axios

A controversial bike lane project deep in Third Ward could be redesigned if the city of Houston is ready to pay.

Catch up quick: Construction is ongoing to transform Blodgett Street between Scott and Ennis streets from a four-lane road to two lanes of traffic with protected bike paths on either side.

  • Several residents, community organizations and District D City Council member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz raised concerns late last year over traffic and lack of engagement and have been trying to stop work on the project.

Driving the news: After hearing from community members, Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, whose office is funding most of the project, sent a letter to Evans-Shabazz and Mayor Sylvester Turner that said the project could be redesigned if the city forked over half of the remaining bill, plus the cost of the redesign — about $8 million to $9 million.

By the numbers: The city currently has only agreed to pay for about $400,000 of the $12.1 million project, for nearby drainage improvements.

Yes, but: In December, Evans-Shabazz blocked that $400,000 from being paid in protest of the project, saying, "Once you pay the bill, then nobody's going to listen to the concerns."

Now, Evans-Shabazz is doubling down and is asking the commissioner to show his work when coming up with the figure

  • "I don't believe that [the cost] would be to the degree that the commissioner has indicated," Evans-Shabazz told Axios. "So, rather than throw numbers against the wall, I want to see the actual cost of changing this. The community definitely does not want [the bike lanes]. They were not engaged, and that was an important step that was missed."

The other side: "We're committed to addressing those concerns and exploring options," Ellis said. "The goals of the letter are to reach a resolution that serves the Third Ward community, improve engagement moving forward and share accountability for where engagement fell short."

Between the lines: Evans-Shabazz's stunt has at least sparked a conversation about rethinking the bike lanes.

  • But Turner doesn't seem keen on the price tag or open to changing plans, according to Houston Public Media.
  • "The project, already under construction, should move forward," Turner said.
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