GULFTON – HILLCROFT AVENUE
Hillcroft Safety Improvement Project: Update September 2021
Where is the construction:
High Star Drive from Hillcroft Ave. to Rookin St.
When is the Construction?
Estimated Date (weather permit):
Phase 1 – Begin early September to end of September/early October
Phase 2 – Begin early October to end of October/early November
What is being done?
Phase 1 – Improve sidewalk on the north side High Star Impact: Parking on the north side of High Star will be removed
Phase 2 – Install Bikeway on the north side of High Star Impact: Parking on the south side will be removed;
Travel lane will be shifted to south side
(Note: All driveways will have access during construction)
Houston Public Works, Connect Community, Together for Safer Roads, and DKS Associates, a transportation planning and engineering firm, and Transoft Solutions are working together on the project scope and implementation for the near-miss post analysis.
Construction along Hillcroft and Westward is anticipated to be complete in October.
The installation of the pedestrian traffic light at Dashwood and Hillcroft is ongoing. HPW has experienced some delays in obtaining the steel materials, but the task is expected to be complete within two to three months.
Building on Mayor Turner’s Complete Communities program, the Gulfton community has partnered with the City and others to design and implement Vision Zero-aligned improvements for Hillcroft Avenue, a road that presents safety and accessibility challenges.
Redesigning Hillcroft Avenue for the safe movement of all road users includes:
- traffic calming, landscaping, and public space to gather
- improved bus stop placement and amenities
- protected bicycle lanes
- widened 8’ sidewalks
- improved lighting
- more shade trees
- a new traffic signal at Dashwood Drive
- safe crossings and plaza space at High Star Drive/Westward Street
- 10’ shared-use path on Westward Street
- Construction will start in February 2021 and estimated completion is late summer 2021. A construction preparedness meeting was held on Wednesday, January 6, and the recording can be found here. Mailouts and doorhangers were distributed to residents and business owners in the area.
View the presentation slides from the September 2020 public meeting
Homes, schools, services and shopping are abundant on both sides of Hillcroft, yet travel there is dangerous. There is a lot of space for cars, people driving exceed the speed limit, and there is a lack of safe and visible crossings. Data show that Hillcroft has double the crash rate as similar streets in Texas cities. Additionally, there are numerous incidents where people are nearly hit trying to reach their destination, making it scary to walk, bike, drive, and take transit.
Streets like Hillcroft invite dangerous drivers into neighborhoods. This was made painfully clear to the Gulfton community in August 2016 when four-year-old Mohammed Ali Abdallah was struck and killed by a driver as he walked with his family on the first day of school.
The new vision for Hillcroft Avenue is aligned with Houston’s Vision Zero program. As recommended in Gulfton’s Complete Communities Action Plan, it prioritizes safety and accessibility in street design for people of all ages and abilities. The plan was created in collaboration between the community, Mayor Turner, Houston Public Works, Together for Safer Roads, Connect Community and institutions like YES Prep, Jane Long Academy and Rice University’s Kinder Institute.
In 2019, local high school students participated in a STEM-based summer internship program and led the community through a process to reimagine safety, mobility and public space along Hillcroft. The program was coordinated by Connect Community, and the students were mentored by professional engineers at TEI (Traffic Engineers Inc.) and TxRx Labs. The final report, Gulfton’s Main Street, presented the community’s vision for a safe Hillcroft Avenue.
The community sees a transformed avenue: from an eight lane, car-only throughway to a community boulevard with safe sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, public plazas, protected bike lanes and safer access to transit. The plan was published in September 2019 by Houston Public Works, Connect Community, TEI and TxRx. Opportunities for community engagement will take place over the summer 2020 and project work is set to begin in early Fall.
This Vision Zero-aligned project will improve road safety for people who live, work and travel through Gulfton everyday. It is data-driven and informed by TxDOT and Houston-Galveston Area Council crash analysis, Houston City Planning reports, Kinder Institute studies and Transoft Solutions driver behavior analytics. The transformation from a roadway dominated by cars to a street inviting for people of all ages on foot, bicycle and riding the bus is especially meaningful for a community where 40-percent of the residents do not drive.
The Gulfton community’s work shows how Vision Zero can not only save lives, it can open opportunities by creating access. It can help families feel truly safe and at home in their neighborhood, regardless of how they choose to get around. Houston Vision Zero will provide our communities a safer today and healthier tomorrow.
What would a Vision Zero project look like? Are there existing projects in Houston that might align with Vision Zero?
Safe Roadways Initiative
Houston Police Department’s new Safe Roadways Initiative aims to eliminate aggressive driving and road rage on our streets, and HPD is collaborating with several Houston-area law enforcement agencies, including the Harris County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety. To support this initiative, HPD is focusing on education and messaging in addition to enforcement, and in their plan of action:
- HPD Officers working in a combination of marked and unmarked units will patrol major freeways in the city during peak traffic times
- Regional partners will act as a force multiplier communicating directly with HPD units working this initiative
- Officers will be proactively looking for aggressive driving behavior:
- Excessive speeding
- Following too closely
- Multiple lane changes without signaling
- Obscene gestures and other acts of aggression directed at motorists
- Unreasonable use of vehicles’ horns
SHEPHERD AND DURHAM MAJOR INVESTMENT PROJECT
The Shepherd and Durham investment project is a reimagining of two major north-south one-way pairs into complete streets which support safe, multimodal transportation for all Houstonians. The project is sponsored by the Memorial Heights Redevelopment Authority and supported through federal and local matching funds. The project will replace and upgrade all public infrastructure within the right-of-way. This includes:
- Traffic safety improvements such as access management and traffic signals, modifications to existing turning radii, and sight lines;
- Congestion and travel time delay reductions through intersection signalization and turning movement improvements;
- Reconfiguration of Shepherd and Durham’s travel way to include three travel lanes for vehicles, protected bike facilities, and improved pedestrian facilities which will reduce crash rates and facilitate better crossing movements for all users;
- New and repositioned Houston METRO bus stops;
- Upgraded stormwater infrastructure to meet post-Hurricane Harvey standards; and
- Improvements to water and sanitary sewer lines.
SMITH/BAGBY/HOLMAN: Addressing one of the most dangerous intersections for people walking and biking
Look for these improvements in the coming months (summer-fall 2020):
- Creation of a median refuge for people walking and biking
- Removal of the south bound lane on Smith to allow for median refuge
- Shortened distance to walk/bike across on Smith
- New, wider curb ramps to increase space for people walking and biking
- Slower vehicle turns onto Holman from Smith been
- New trail pavement on the east side of Smith to create a comfortable waiting area
TOP 12 MOST DANGEROUS INTERSECTIONS FOR PEOPLE WALKING AND BIKING
In September 2018 and January 2019, the City of Houston partnered with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), BikeHouston, LINK Houston, and METRO to assess the 12 most dangerous intersections for people walking and biking. These intersections were identified in partnership with LINK Houston and BikeHouston, using both crash data and community feedback to determine which were the most dangerous. Criteria were based on a variety of factors, such as the number of people walking and biking who were killed at intersections and where people felt unsafe.
- West at Airline
- Fannin at Pierce
- Washington at Patterson
- 11th at Nicholson
- Bellaire from Ranchester
- Bellaire at Gessner
- Long Point at Gessner
- Taylor at Spring and MKT Trail
- Shepherd at Allen Parkway and Shepherd at Memorial Parkway
- Hawthorne at Spur 527 and Holman
- Fondren at West Bellfort
- Bissonnet at Wilcrest
Of note: The intersections are listed in order of assessment. Intersections 1-7 were assessed in September 2018 and intersections 8-12 were assessed in January 2019.