Aug 7, 2023 - News

Advocates petition for Commerce Street makeover

Commerce Street will look a lot different in a year. Photo: Jay R. Jordan/Axios

A troublesome half-mile stretch of road in the East End is getting a much-needed makeover, but advocates are pushing for more.

Driving the news: Construction crews will soon start to rehabilitate Commerce Street between St. Charles and Velasco streets, a $2 million undertaking by the City of Houston.

  • A major upgrade will be the removal of abandoned railroad tracks that run down the middle of the road.
  • Current designs also call for bike lanes that would be separated from traffic with street parking.

Why it matters: The current state of the roadway is abysmal, District H Council Member Karla Cisneros says.

  • "What an uncomfortable street that is to travel on for anybody, if you're in a car or if you're on a bike or if you're walking," Cisneros tells Axios.
  • "Navigating [those] tracks down the middle of the street, it messes up your car and your bicycle ride. Can you imagine if you're trying to push a stroller or manage a wheelchair across that? It's been awful."

How it happened: The project came to fruition through Mayor Sylvester Turner's Street Rehabilitation Initiative, which seeks to identify 210 miles of roadways each year that could use some TLC.

  • The aim of the program is to repair roads now rather than destroy and replace them later.

Meanwhile, a group of community advocates is pushing for the city, Harris County, TIRZ 23 and the East End District to treat the entirety of Commerce Street, from its eastern terminus with the Harrisburg Hike and Bike Trail to its western end at the Buffalo Bayou greenway.

  • Commerce Street also connects with the Austin Street bike lane and the White Oak Bayou greenway.
  • Adding bike lanes to the entirety of Commerce Street would connect a major gap in Houston's bike network, advocates say.

What's happening: BikeHouston is leading the effort through a petition that asks for the entities to work together and rebuild Commerce Street "in a way that supports local economic development and safely connects the East End bike network with downtown Houston."

What they're saying: "Connecting all these existing trails and bikeways to each other and filling in a gap in the bike network, that's something that seems like common sense," BikeHouston executive director Joe Cutrufo says.

What we're watching: Construction on the half-mile stretch of Commerce Street is slated to begin by the end of September and will last about a year.


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