Harris County / City of Houston Cullen Boulevard Transformation
March 20, 2019
- In March 2018 Harris County and the City of Houston announced an agreement to invest $30 million to improve streets in University of Houston and Texas Southern University neighborhoods.
- Under the agreement, Harris County is spending $15 million to transform Cullen Boulevard from a 55 foot wide, five-lane thoroughfare into a 33 foot wide, pedestrian- and bike-friendly campus street.
- Traffic studies prepared for the City revealed that south of Elgin Street, Cullen Blvd. had more daily traffic capacity than needed, both now and in the future. The new campus street embodies this traffic analysis.
- The project extends 1.5 miles from N. MacGregor at Brays Bayou to I-45. It includes complete reconstruction of Cullen Blvd. from the bayou to Elgin Street and median and sidewalk enhancements from Elgin to I-45.
- The project will be constructed in two segments:
- Segment A, between N. MacGregor and Wheeler Avenue, from May 2019 to December 2019; and
- Segment B, between Wheeler Avenue and I-45, from December 2019 to June 2021.
- The design of the new street reflects a partnership among the City, County and University. Under an inter-local agreement, the County is leading the design and construction effort. The County has worked closely and collaboratively with the University during the design process.
- The University will maintain non-standard elements, including pedestrian lights, bollards, street trees, irrigation and “green” storm water infrastructure.
- The Cullen transformation project has three goals: to improve safety and mobility for pedestrians and bicyclists; to enhance the image and character of this “front door” to campus; and to improve storm water drainage.
- The new Cullen Blvd. improve safety and mobility by:
- Narrowing the street to slow traffic and reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians
- Locating sidewalks away from street curbs and passing vehicles
- Providing wide, 14 – 16 foot sidewalks for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Connecting to the City’s growing Bikeway network
- Constructing sidewalks and street crossing to ADA standards
- Installing pedestrian lighting in a regular pattern
- Installing smart signaling at major intersections
- Adding new safety gate arms at the light rail crossing at Wheeler Avenue
- The new Cullen Blvd. enhances the image of the University by:
- Creating a pedestrian-friendly street at the University’s “front door”
- Providing consistent and regular pattern of street trees, pedestrian lights and sidewalks from N. MacGregor to I-45
- Incorporating a curb-less, plaza street design in front of the stadium, from Cougar Place to Holman Street
- Getting the details right, including color-coordinated traffic poles, light poles, bollards, pavers and other street furnishings
- Introducing campus branding, including new UH bus stops and pole-mounted banners
- The new Cullen Blvd. improves local storm water drainage by:
- Exceeding the City’s required two-year rainfall event standard
- Designing the manage the run-off from a 100-year rainfall event (currently, 13 inches in 24 hours)
- Installing new and larger concrete piping to store storm water in the segment from N. MacGregor to Cougar Place
- Incorporating an innovative system of porous pavers and underground storage tanks to detain storm water in the segment from Cougar Place to Holman Street
With any construction project, safety is a top priority and the pedestrian enhancements include expansive sidewalks approximately 14 to 16 feet wide for both pedestrians and bicyclists on both sides of Cullen Boulevard within the project plan from N. MacGregor to the 1-45 interchange.
No; bike lanes will not be on the street. However, there will be a dedicated fourteen foot wide shared-use pathway for bicyclists and pedestrians along each side of Cullen Blvd. from N. MacGregor to I-45.
With regard to the bikeways, have we considered electric scooters and call boxes along the routes?
The construction product that will be used is comprised of concrete pavement approximately 10-inches thick throughout the Cullen Blvd. project plan.
With the emphasis on evergreen trees and plant landscaping native to Texas to provide aesthetic appeal, a shade canopy and long-term sustainability, the project plan includes voluminous Cathedral Oaks and Cedar Elms, as well as the seasonal color of vibrant Texas Pistache, white-blossom Fringe Trees and the early spring Redbuds within the pedestrian, boulevard and median along Cullen Blvd.. While to-date no allergen studies have been conducted in conjunction with the project, the critical selection of the seasonal appeal and native emphasis reflects a dedicated commitment to enhanced greenspace along Cullen Blvd.
There has been no private property affected or acquired to accommodate the Cullen Blvd. project.
To more effectively address traffic flow, the project lane changes include the addition of a continuous left turn lane the entire length of Cullen Blvd, along with one traffic flow lane in each direction, resulting in a width change of 48 feet to 33 feet overall from N. MacGregor to Elgin. The section of Cullen Blvd. from Elgin to I-45 remains unchanged.
Yes, appropriate seating accommodations are part of the proposed new bus shelters.
While traffic influx of adjacent road construction projects was not specifically studied, it is expected that the potential short-term inconvenience will contribute to long-term improvement and beneficial results.
Harris County is currently seeking students for summer internship opportunities. In addition, community student organizations have adopted street segments and periodically picked up trash at various locations in the County. Harris County has no objection to students volunteering to do this as well, although it may not be necessary.
The project will be paid for by funds from the Office of Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. The County project team is open to exploring learning opportunities and potential avenues of involvement going forward.r
This project addresses drainage improvements along the Cullen Blvd. corridor between Elgin and N. MacGregor, while the area along Webster Street is located outside the Cullen Blvd. project boundaries.
The Cullen Blvd. project segment between Elgin and I-45 will generally remain unchanged, with the exception of the new pedestrian sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes located within the University of Houston boundaries. Requests for drainage system cleaning within the Houston city limits should be directed to the City of Houston 311 service line.
Yes, please be aware that while the existing driveway to the church parking lot will be replaced by a new concrete driveway, church visitors will be able access the parking lot at all times during the reconstruction of Cullen Blvd. County representatives will be meeting with church leaders to share the details and timing of the work to occur near the church.
The website for more information is http://www.uh.edu/facilities-planning-construction/fpc-projects/spotlight/.
While the estimated total project cost of the Cullen Blvd. project is $15 million, specific details will be available via the Harris County Purchasing site (https://purchasing.harriscountytx.gov) after the project is open for bids.
Contractual terms indicate that there will be a one-year warranty by the contractor after substantial completion.