Walk This Way: Living the Dream of Urban Walkability on Texas’ First Greenroads Project

Bagby Street is finally getting the accolades it deserves. Texas’ First Greenroads Project, Bagby was named as #5 on Roads & Bridges Magazine’s “Top 10 2014 Roads” and graces the cover of their October issue.

“The basic scope of the project comprised new storm sewers, water lines, wastewater lines, pavement, landscaping, sidewalks and traffic signals. However, the project also was conceived as a way to provide a streetscape sensitive to the unique needs of each block in an area with a changing demographic. This meant that the development needed to be sustainable, walkable and bikeable, and possess a sense of place and community.” writes Lynn Fort. (Read more about the project here: http://www.roadsbridges.com/no-5-road-massive-impact.)

 

Now that the construction dust has settled, living along Bagby is just as advantageous as the planners intended. When I wake up every morning, I can walk my dog, Pepper, along Bagby and feel safe on unobstructed and well-lit pathways. The street, which was changed from four-lanes to three, still has many vehicles traveling on it. But cars are traveling at slower speeds, and there are many pedestrian cross-walks as well as lovely appointed seating areas built from sustainable and regional materials. Tapering in the street has also resulted in more parking spaces for my friends when they come to visit to enjoy Christian’s Tailgate’s award winning burgers or Cyclone Anaya’s seriously strong margaritas. This has provided some much needed relief from unforgiving tow-truck drivers prowling for illegally-parked vehicles.

 

Living off Bagby means being able to walk to most of the things I enjoy and need. I often go entire weekends without turning on my car as I can easily get to the gym, grocery, nail salon, several restaurants and bars, drug store, bank, dry cleaners, coffee shop, a vast selection of sandwich shops and quick casual joints, dog park and even a hip hop dance class that creatively uses the space during the daytime hours at a nearby nightclub. One thing I don’t miss seeing as I amble is those old utility polls. All of them have been placed out of sight and underground for improved safety and visibility for pedestrians just like me!

 

One feature of the project that I really enjoy is the rain gardens. Rain gardens are fairly new and many of my friends are unfamiliar with how they filter pollution naturally and cost-effectively and keep harmful chemicals out of our waterways. The design team did a fabulous job of installing these rain gardens and they really add to the landscape of the street.

 

One of the goals of the project was to “possess a sense of place and community.”This goal has certainly been achieved for my household. My husband and I rarely leave Midtown! We enjoy living in a thriving city like Houston but love having “our neighborhood” where we often run into the same people and make new friends while playing football bingo at Pub Fiction on Monday nights. We like knowing that the owners of the dry cleaner we walk to have children that went to Baylor (where my husband attended law school) and that they allow me to bring Pepper inside the cleaners so I can walk her and run errands at the same time. We like being able to walk to the gym. Who needs parking as one more excuse to avoid going?

 

Houston has lots to offer and we do venture out to enjoy it. Recently I was excited to participate in a survey offered by Midtown Management District on possible improvements to Brazos Street. Could a 2nd Texas Greenroads be in our future?