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Widening Of Kirby Highway 59 To San Felipe


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7 feet for drainage? Why so much? That seems like a lot just for that.

OMG! so many trees are going to die!

Businesses and residential areas are going to suffer quite a bit due to the construction lasting forever!

Quick, someone alert A-oaks and see if they're willing to protest this! Let's see how they are for consistancy?

Seriously, though.

Considering the work that they're putting under there, that's a reasonable amount of setback on your typical street, but I didn't think Kirby was practically landlocked without taking some land using Eminent Domain.

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OMG! so many trees are going to die!

Businesses and residential areas are going to suffer quite a bit due to the construction lasting forever!

Quick, someone alert A-oaks and see if they're willing to protest this! Let's see how they are for consistancy?

Seriously, though.

Considering the work that they're putting under there, that's a reasonable amount of setback on your typical street, but I didn't think Kirby was practically landlocked without taking some land using Eminent Domain.

So what are they doing, just adding one lane to each side?

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By the sounds of it, yes.

I think traffic flow would improve tremendously if they simply repave the road completely. I've seen more than a few drivers disrupt traffic when they feel their tires starting to fall towards the curbs or hit a an uneven patch of asphalt.

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And, in typical Houston fashion they're not going to bury the electric lines!! Great, less trees, more concrete, and the same unsightly stretch of road-just more road. F'ing "real". This city never ceases to disappoint. Just 7,848 days to retirement... Damn, that's a long time. Civil tort immunity is such a delicate flower-or, I swear, I'd sue!!.

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7 feet for drainage? Why so much? That seems like a lot just for that.

the main reason is for drainage yes. at least one of the people mentioned said it was probably a good idea with the new residential project going in. i believe they mentioned that the kirby mgmt district wanted the proposed config and that's why the city is pursuing it.

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274 trees for about a mile and a half of roadway?

Wonder if all those tree-hugging anti-rail folks will be beating the war drums on this one? :)

I cannot imagine that Avalon Place and River Oaks are going to be happy about this one. The houses on the corners of streets like Locke Lane and Reba are going to have cars whizzing by very close to their houses if 7 more feet will be taken.

It will also be interesting to see what happens at the light at San Felipe. Kirby turns into just two lanes in each direction and there is no way the city would mess with the people who live in $2 million plus homes along that stretch...or is there?

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They need to do this right and take the expansion all the way down to Shepherd, but you KNOW that's not going to happen. We wouldn't want the hoity toity in River Oaks to have to give up some of their front yard.

They might be willing to make a sacrifice if can stave off congestion and in the mean time, taxpayers would be paying them for their front yards. And certainly their neighbors off of Kirby wouldn't want the congestion and won't care about the property loss. I really don't think that it would be as politically impossible and you might think.

Remember, this is different from Afton Oaks because they were dealing with LRT, which would result in narrower or fewer lanes, blocked intersections, loud high-pitched horns blowing day and night, and possibly an increase in the number of people that cut through their neighborhood trying to avoid the congestion at the West Loop. I agree that they were being overly whiney and getting distracted with lesser points, like trees and yards, but they very clearly would've been negatively impacted, whereas road expansion through River Oaks would be part of an attempt to reduce congestion.

Everybody like having less congestion.

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I think buring power lines is the BEST thing the city can do for us. People make a big stink about billboards, but I think power lines are far uglier. That second photo in the above link looks terrific. If all the power lines came down, Houston's entire 'personality' and 'image' would change for the better - it would be like an instant face lift.

I noticed in the before/after pic that the trees were still on Kirby. Good.

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As someone with family members who lived on Kirby and still has family two blocks off of Kirby, I am trying to figure out what congestion people are talking about?

The only time that stretch of Kirby (between San Felipe and Shepherd) has traffic is the 5 p.m. rush hour. Even then, the traffic flows quite well considering it is a major thoroughfare that connects downtown with upper kirby. That section is NOTHING like the section between Richmond and US 59.

At off hours, the road is quite empty. The biggest complaint I hear people making who live on Kirby is that cars travel too fast because the roads are emtpy. It isn't uncommon to see people whizzing by at 50-60 mph. Widening the road would worsen that situation.

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I hope this indirectly helps alleviate some of the congestion along Shepherd as well... That narrow 4 lane road wasn't made for such traffic

Are there any plans to ever widen Shepherd? Doesn't really look feasible in that area considering number of buildlings that would be affected. Heck, they apparently can't even install some turn lanes...

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I think buring power lines is the BEST thing the city can do for us. People make a big stink about billboards, but I think power lines are far uglier. That second photo in the above link looks terrific. If all the power lines came down, Houston's entire 'personality' and 'image' would change for the better - it would be like an instant face lift.

I noticed in the before/after pic that the trees were still on Kirby. Good.

Bury power lines! Lets make it a city proclamation now.

People just don't seem to understand that the city only will grow in congestion just like a plant or tree grows. There is no other choice but to expand this area. This process has happened again and again and before our time. Its nature of the beast. If I was told a freeway was coming right through my property, heck I would jump for joy and just accept it! As long as I was given a decent amount of mula that is. This stretch is overcrowded. Just pulling in & out of like Chase Bank is like suicide. If you are not a stop light, you are basically screwed. With NEW projects being built and soon to be completed, this area will be major gridlock. Widen now! :lol:

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So what are they doing, just adding one lane to each side?

I haven't seen this question directly addressed in anything I saw on the internet, but I did hear from someone more familiar with the project than I am that the plan is not to add any new lanes - that the plan is instead to keep the same number of lanes and make each lane a little wider. The discussion in the Trees for Houston letter (post #1) of the width of lane necessary for Metro buses is consistent with that. (As is the discussion in the Chron blog entry in post #19, which sounds like the same project.) If anyone has more information, I'd be interested in knowing one way or the other.

The loss of trees is obviously just one negative to weigh into an overall balancing of the pros and cons of any development project. Some will give more weight to that factor than others, so that, all other things being equal, reasonable people could still end up on opposite sides on the question of whether the positive aspects of a given development project outweigh its negatives. When all is said and done, though, I hope nobody would dispute that the loss of trees - especially hundreds of trees - is a negative factor in the overall analysis. Based on what I read in the Trees for Houston letter, which argues that the widening is not necessary to achieve the project's stated goals, I'd like to learn more.

The Chron blog entry says the trees will be "replaced" - I'm wondering what that means, if the widening leaves just enough room for sidewalks between the street and businesses.

Edited by tmariar
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And, in typical Houston fashion they're not going to bury the electric lines!! Great, less trees, more concrete, and the same unsightly stretch of road-just more road. F'ing "real". This city never ceases to disappoint. Just 7,848 days to retirement... Damn, that's a long time. Civil tort immunity is such a delicate flower-or, I swear, I'd sue!!.

Wow, what an uninformed debbie downer you are... From the Chron blog on this topic:

"The project also includes burying the utility lines underground, widening the sidewalks from four to six feet and replacing 143 trees with 250 to 300 new trees."

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New trees sounds good.

I was thinking about how the lack of trees might impact the walk between Richmond & Kirby to West Ave. Less trees means less shade. There aren't enough urban style buildings to offer shade on their own, so the trees are really nice when you're walking past large parking lots. I see the pedestrian traffic increasing in this area in the future with the new developments and the metro rail so widening the sidewalks sounds good too.

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A 9/11 Chronicle article about the project:

Storm drainage work targeted for Kirby project

By JENNIFER FRIEDBERG

Chronicle Correspondent

What began as a project by the Upper Kirby Redevelopment Authority to ease flooding problems in the David Crockett subdivision has turned into a massive redesign of the Kirby Drive streetscape from U.S. 59 north to Westheimer and raised concerns of local groups such as Trees for Houston and area businesses.

...It involves tearing up Kirby and widening traffic lanes and sidewalks.

The project costs include roughly $26 million for the storm drainage work from Richmond to Westheimer; about $13.24 million for the traffic and mobility piece from U.S. 59 to Westheimer; and about $10 million for burying overhead utility lines from U.S. 59 to Westheimer.

Travis Younkin, director of capital projects for the Upper Kirby District, said the TIRZ wants to use the opportunity to change the look of the street.

"We're trying to address storm drainage, safety, mobility and walkability with the same project. This is the best solution to address all of those goals," Younkin said.

However, widening the street will mean removing existing trees, which, along with a lack of public input, has peaked concerns of Trees for Houston and local businesses.

Edited by Subdude
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The sewer drainage project is technically separate from a project coordinated by the UPPER KIRBY DISTRICT called the Kirby All-Stars project. The Upper Kirby District is a TIRZ that wants to do improve Kirby Drive's facade after the City of Houston finishes its sewage drainage improvement work. However, they will coincide and are going to be done in conjunction with one another.

Yes, the loss of the trees is bad. However, the Upper Kirby Project includes the addition of many new trees. AND many, if not most, of the new trees are going to be relocated to Levy Park, near Eastside @ Richmond Ave.

Keep in mind that many smaller trees, included in the total number that will be "destroyed", were planted AFTER the Upper Kirby District announced their intentions and plans for the project.

Also, keep in mind that, due to the (editorialized comment to follow) wretched powerlines on Kirby, the nice trees currently lining Kirby Drive will be "trimmed" into a beautiful V-shaped by Centerpoint Energy since, years ago, they were planted directly underneath already-existing powerlines.

In addition, some individuals are actually blaming the Upper Kirby District for not only the construction by the City of Houston on the sewage lines but the traffic problems caused by the high rise and West Ave projects @ Westheimer.

Contact the Upper Kirby District directly, or visit them on the web, to get their version of the story.

http://www.upperkirby.org/index.php?option...93&Itemid=1

Also, there is a big meeting on this project THIS Saturday (September 15) at the Upper Kirby offices on Richmond @ Eastside. 9-11 am. The public is encouraged to attend.

I love Trees for Houston. I support the Upper Kirby District. I hate that they're fighting.... :unsure:

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just in the inbox:

Dear Houstonians,

I have a great appreciation for concerns about improvements along Kirby Drive and the effect on trees and green space. I personally built my home configured in a way to save the trees. I understand that most Houstonians like trees. We want people's input about the Kirby plan, but we also want them to understand the balance we are trying to strike.

The Kirby project has several goals. They include: (1) drainage improvements in an area experiencing flooding; (2) mobility and traffic safety in an area of great population growth; (3) promoting neighborhood retail choices, in a pedestrian friendly environment; and (4) green space, including trees. I believe the volunteer Upper Kirby TIRZ board and consultants have worked in good faith for several years to develop a plan to balance those goals.

I have asked Council Member Anne Clutterbuck and our Department of Public Works to help forge a consensus. She pays attention to detail and is analytical and is open-minded and listens to people. That is what she is doing now.

I urge people to deal with the TIRZ board directly and Council Member Clutterbuck. I also urge them to assume the people with whom they are dealing value our community, and its quality of life, every bit as much as you do. All citizens share our desire to keep traffic moving safely.

I have discussed this issue at length with various professionals in the City, and we are examining the green space, pedestrian space, landscaping and trees before and after the drainage improvements are made along Kirby.

Bill White,

Mayor

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I'm glad a compromise was reached. I've never considered myself rabid about trees or anything, but I do like them, and so was concerned to hear that such a large number of centrally-located live oaks were going to be cut down without any public input.

And, while I like Mayor White, that line in his email made me laugh: "I understand that most Houstonians like trees." Not sure the hedging was really necessary there - doubt there are many anti-tree folks who would have criticized him for branding us all tree-likers.

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What do you people have against power lines?! You really think removing all of those "wretched" power lines would be an instant face life for Houston? If that's all that's wrong with the aesthetics of this city; we must be number one in the world! Forget all of that urban blight; let's bring down power lines that only .4564334% of the known Houston population even notice. Yes, that's the ticket. And many of the telephone poles predate the new "white blight (stucco McMansions, upscale strip malls)" that has crept into the city core. This is an Architecture forum; where's the love for the old, simple architecture of these poles? If you want buried utilities; move to Katy or the Woodlands!

Edited by MetroMogul
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What do you people have against power lines?!

:lol:

Man, I was just thinking that this afternoon, while driving home. Houston has to be one of the world leaders in per capita electricity use, and those poles and lines are our air conditioning lifeblood. I wondered why all of our urban afficionados did not stick up for these stalwarts of urbanism. I mean, REAL cities have them. Ever visited a friend in his Chicago flat? Look in the alley when you do. You'll never carp about our's again.

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:lol:

Man, I was just thinking that this afternoon, while driving home. Houston has to be one of the world leaders in per capita electricity use, and those poles and lines are our air conditioning lifeblood. I wondered why all of our urban afficionados did not stick up for these stalwarts of urbanism. I mean, REAL cities have them. Ever visited a friend in his Chicago flat? Look in the alley when you do. You'll never carp about our's again.

At least by the sounds of it they are in alleys and not on main streets. Same thing in Southampton. If there were power lines those nice big oaks wouldn't have room to grow. Their powerlines are in the alleys, which really enhances the esthetic of the neighborhood. I think it would be great if Kirby someday had some big oak trees on either side as well, and that can only happen if those powerlines are moved or buried. I think it's going to be great to get rid of them.

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  • 3 months later...
Trees to face ax in Kirby project

Plan to widen road will lead to loss of live oaks

By ALLAN TURNER

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Scores of stately live oaks lining upper Kirby Drive will hit the chipper in the coming months as work begins on a nearly $50 million project to widen the busy thoroughfare and install new sewers and underground utility lines.

Only eight of an estimated 175 trees, the oldest planted about 20 years ago, will be relocated. The others will be fed into shredders or cut and hauled away, city forester Victor Cordova said.

The trees' loss comes despite a compromise plan devised to save the oaks by the Upper Kirby District, Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 19 and Trees for Houston.

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  • 4 months later...

Looks like this is getting closer according to the Chron today. I am firmly in the tree hugger camp on this one. I've driven that stretch of road countless times at the height of rush hour, and it never took me more than 10 minutes to get from Richmond to San Felipe. They aren't increasing the number of lanes, only making them wider, so this isn't even a "progress" thing which I wouldn't agree with but could at least understand being the Houstonian that I am.

I personally think the real reason the trees are coming down is that construction will be quicker with the trees out of the way, and that to me is a flimsy excuse.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Say adios to those trees.

Kirby project starts Monday

None of 135 current trees featured in plan

By MIKE SNYDER

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Work will begin Monday on the contentious Kirby Drive reconstruction project between Westheimer and Richmond with a design that retains none of the 135 trees lining the thoroughfare, leaders of the project said Friday.

The trees, most of which were planted 20 years ago by the nonprofit group Trees for Houston, will be replaced by at least 148 smaller trees, said leaders of the Upper Kirby District, the tax-supported group overseeing the project.

The project will provide improved drainage and better mobility as well as safe and attractive spaces for pedestrians in an area attracting dense, high-rise development with a pedestrian focus, said Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck, who represents the area.

But William Coats, an attorney who founded Trees for Houston and has worked for months to persuade district and city officials to save at least some of the trees, said the design was disappointing.

"They could have saved $2 million worth of mature trees," Coats said. "Instead, we're going to spend $1.2 million for trees that won't provide shade for 15 years.

Link to full article

311xInlineGallery.jpg

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What a joke.

We're going to lose 135 shade trees and no new lanes are going to be created? What's the point? I've driven that stretch of road for 20 years and it isn't bad at all compared to some of the Afghani style roads in the rest of the city.

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Infrastructer improvements, such as drainage are incorporated. I'm assuming that they'll be burying those big giant culverts, like Kirby through West U. They're so big you could drive a full size car through them. All that digging would have damaged root structer of the trees and all. I'm a tree lover too, but when it's complete, all of the new trees will be (I assume) uniform in size and placement. I think it will have a neater appearance. I just wish that that would take this opportunity to bury all the phone and electric line. I think this stretch can really be a showplace boulevard.

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Infrastructer improvements, such as drainage are incorporated. I'm assuming that they'll be burying those big giant culverts, like Kirby through West U. They're so big you could drive a full size car through them. All that digging would have damaged root structer of the trees and all. I'm a tree lover too, but when it's complete, all of the new trees will be (I assume) uniform in size and placement. I think it will have a neater appearance. I just wish that that would take this opportunity to bury all the phone and electric line. I think this stretch can really be a showplace boulevard.

Yea! I just read in The Village News that the utility lines will go underground. Also, the new trees will be Bald Cypress and High Rise Oak. These trees grow straight up and the roots straight down. This will reduce risk of damage to the utility infrastructer and the street (think Montrose sidewalks). They say that the current roots are under the road and would be cut and damaged anyway. Those type oaks that are currently there don't take kindly to their roots being messed with. They say examples of the new trees have been planted at Kirby and Steele and that the oak is currently nearly as tall as the old oaks. Scheduled completion is set for Nov. 2009.

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  • The title was changed to Widening Of Kirby Highway 59 To San Felipe

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