The Memorial Heights Redevelopment Authority (TIRZ 5) focuses on building infrastructure that surpasses what is often built while still meeting City maintenance standards. One particular example of this is the Shepherd and Durham Project, which is at the forefront of Houston’s revitalization efforts.
The Shepherd and Durham Project implements special features that prioritize low-impact stormwater design and mobility for all users while complying with existing City standards for infrastructure. As a result, innovations pioneered in this project can be replicated in any corner of the City. Here are three ways that this project achieves these goals while staying within the City’s maintenance requirements.
Lighting for all Commuters
Installation of pedestrian lights in addition to streetlights normally comes with maintenance costs and electricity expenses. To prioritize the safety of all users, the Memorial Heights Redevelopment Authority (MHRA) worked with the City of Houston to specify and install dual-purpose lights that serve as both traffic and pedestrian lighting. Because one pole handles both purposes, the maintenance is similar to the standard single-arm pole and can be part of the standard City maintenance plan. This ensures streetlights become comprehensive installations that encompass lighting for automobiles, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Enhancing Bike Lanes While Improving Traffic Flow
As Houston sees an influx of new residents, both transplants and native Houstonians are seeking safe ways to walk, bike, and drive as they travel around town. The Shepherd and Durham Project provides access for all modes of transportation (automobiles, transit, bicycles, and pedestrians). During the design phase, two independent traffic studies were completed to look at existing traffic and the expected future traffic on Shepherd and Durham. Both studies found that congestion was primarily caused by the lack of dedicated turning lanes at signalized intersections. The new design includes turning lanes at these intersections to reduce this congestion for drivers. The project also supplies both protected bike lanes and wider sidewalks in this rapidly densifying commercial and residential area. The bike lanes on Shepherd are behind the curb, creating a larger separation between drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. This allows for a safer street for all.
The project incorporates Silva Cells to support large tree growth and provide on-site stormwater capture for tree watering. These cells are installed beneath the surface of the sidewalks and bike lanes along Shepherd and Durham, providing sustainable irrigation to the trees lining the streets. Rainwater is captured and channeled into the cell, nurturing greenery in an efficient manner that will also help to filter pollutants out of the rainwater. In addition, planter boxes enclosing trees will be added to the area, crafted from intentionally weathered metal designed to withstand the test of time while requiring minimal upkeep.
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