What is the Boulevard Project?
The vision for the project is to rebuild Post Oak Boulevard into an exquisitely designed grand boulevard while creating a beautifully landscaped pedestrian environment, preserving existing automobile lanes and substantially improving transit service in order to address the continuing growth of Houston.
Who benefits from the project?
This signature project for the city will be a model of improved access, beneficial to the lives and lifestyles of all its citizens. It is designed to serve the needs of a currently underserved community – the growing number of employees working in Uptown who need efficient and convenient transportation options to and from work, while equally serving its local residents and consumers. It’s a red carpet for visitors both foreign and domestic.
Not only will the project improve pedestrian and automotive access with dedicated bus lanes for Uptown’s more than 200,000 daily commuters and visitors, but it will also provide visitors and residents an enhanced boulevard with shaded sidewalks and flourishing vegetation. The wider walkable area will be an inviting public realm for a more active and urban lifestyle.
What is the benefit to the immediate community?
The cornerstone of the completed Boulevard will be its enhanced walkability and beautification. Sidewalks along either side of Post Oak Boulevard will be widened up to 12 feet. Extensive pedestrian lighting will be added to enhance security and encourage increased foot traffic to Uptown’s unmatched dining and shopping attractions. Post Oak Boulevard’s beloved flowers and landscaping will be expanded and the iconic stainless steel rings and arches will be preserved.
Additionally, the regional transit service will be substantially improved in order to address the continuing growth of Houston. Preserving existing automobile access, dedicated bus lanes will remove buses from general traffic lanes and improve commuter transit service for Uptown’s employees.
Why is it incorporating dedicated bus lanes? Does anyone currently ride the bus to the area?
Relocating buses to dedicated lanes:
- Provides the best long term solution for reducing traffic congestion in the Uptown Houston area.
- Significantly reduces both vehicle and transit travel times.
- Enhances traffic and transit operations along the corridor.
- Minimizes conflicts between transit and autos accessing retail centers other commercial developments and right turns at major thoroughfares.
Today, Uptown Houston has no regional bus service. The Boulevard Project will connect Uptown Houston employees and others who desire convenient commuting from outlying areas with unprecedented and easy access.
- The project taps into the existing US 290 and IH-10 Katy Freeway HOV lanes, allowing employees to use Park and Ride lots along these corridors to the Northwest Transit Center. A unique Uptown bus will take riders to Post Oak Boulevard via the West Loop on Elevated Dedicated Bus Lanes.
- Uptown Houston will build Dedicated Bus Lanes in the median of a newly expanded and reconstructed Post Oak Boulevard from IH 610 to Richmond.
- Uptown Houston will construct the Bellaire / Uptown Transit Center which will tap into the existing Southwest Freeway HOV lanes and the Westpark Tollway, allowing employees to use Park and Ride lots along these corridors to the Bellaire / Uptown Transit Center. A unique Uptown bus will take riders to Post Oak Boulevard.
Will there be fewer automobile lanes than before? Are we losing left turn lanes and if so, where? Will there be turn lanes during construction?
The project will preserve all six existing auto traffic lanes and all left turns at signalized intersections. Additionally, signalized left turns will be maintained throughout construction. During construction, two lanes will be open in each direction in active construction areas, all traffic lanes will be open in non-active construction areas and all current signal operations, including left turns, will be maintained.
Traffic is already an issue in the area. Will this project make traffic worse? Has Uptown conducted traffic studies?
An independent study directed by the City of Houston and executed by Walter P. Moore and Associates determined that the proposed Dedicated Bus Lanes in the median provide the best long term solution for reducing traffic congestion in the Uptown Houston area.
Additionally, two extensive bus ridership studies have been conducted and were based on nationally accepted tools and techniques. The ridership forecasts were developed by a task force led by H-GAC (Houston-Galveston Area Council) and included staff of the TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation), METRO, TTI (Texas Transportation Institute) and Uptown Houston District / TIRZ. That task force was created by H-GAC’s Transportation Policy Council in 2013. Standard input data, assumptions and computer models developed by H-GAC over the past 40 years were used.
This travel demand forecasting methodology has been and is still being used for analysis provided by H-GAC to the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency for the analysis, ranking and approval of projects. The 2013 ridership forecasts were updated and refined in 2015 as the project became better defined.
What is happening to the trees and flowers currently on Post Oak Boulevard? Will they all be destroyed? Will there be more trees?
Uptown Houston has a plan for the trees on and along Post Oak Boulevard: protect, relocate, preserve and plant. Many trees will be protected and preserved in place, while others will be relocated. Uptown Houston is working with Trees For Houston to identify locations where trees can be relocated. For over three years, 800 live oak trees, initially grown in central Florida, are being custom grown at a nearby tree farm for future installation on Post Oak Boulevard. At the culmination of the project, nearly 1,000 live oak trees will line The Boulevard, creating a canopy-lined grand boulevard. Post Oak Boulevard’s beloved flowers and landscaping will be enhanced and the iconic stainless steel rings and arches will be preserved
Are utilities being improved?
Improved utilities, including sanitary sewer and water lines, are being constructed as a part of the Post Oak Boulevard project.
Will stores along Post Oak Boulevard suffer? Will the dedicated bus lanes make it more difficult to access restaurants, shops, etc.?
Uptown Houston is working closely with all businesses along Post Oak Boulevard. Careful attention is being made to minimize construction during peak times of the day and peak periods of the year, like the holidays. Access to business will always be maintained throughout the construction.
Why has Uptown already started construction if they don’t already own all of the property?
The project has already begun. More than 90% of the total square footage needed for the project has either closed, is pending FTA approval or is in the process of finalizing purchase and sale agreements.
How long will construction take?
Construction of the Boulevard project is underway. It will be constructed in three phases and is estimated to be completed in December 2018.
What is right-of-way acquisition?
The purchase of private property needed to complete a public project.
Why is right-of-way acquisition necessary for this project?
Many road construction projects need right-of-way to widen existing or build new roads, which is why it is necessary for The Boulevard Project.
Do all transit projects require right-of-way acquisitions?
Some transit projects are constructed within public right-of-way and others have no need for right-of-way acquisition.
How is the project paid for? What will this cost taxpayers?
The City of Houston in conjunction with the Uptown Houston TIRZ and District are funding the project together with TxDOT and a $62 million federal grant awarded by the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council.
Who financially benefits from property sales along Post Oak Boulevard to make way for the project?
Property owners are fairly compensated for land acquired for the project. The Boulevard Project is utilizing federal funding and must follow the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) real estate acquisition process guidelines. This process requires a formal appraisal, an independent review of this appraisal by a second appraiser, and FTA prior concurrence of offers over $500,000 and counteroffers over $50,000.
In addition to all legal requirements, Uptown Houston has retained independent counsel to review for fairness and consistency all real estate acquisition matters involving Uptown Development Authority Board Members.
Have there been public meetings or hearings about the project? If so, when?
Uptown Houston, City of Houston, METRO and TxDOT have held numerous public meetings. Uptown Houston has also held more than 500 meetings since 2013 with property owners, property managers, tenants, retailers and residents, including public meetings in 2014 and 2015.
Why has Uptown Houston requested additional funding? Is the project over budget?
The Boulevard project is within the City approved budget. Uptown Houston requested available federal funding from the Houston Galveston Area Council (HGAC) in an effort to recover City of Houston funds that were spent on eligible utility enhancements required in the area. The issuance of available federal dollars would reduce the demand on local funds.