11th Street, on the District of Houston's long-term downtown improvement project list. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)

District nails down vision for next phase of downtown improvement

It’ll build on nearly-finished 9th Street work

Council here has started to firm up how the eventual above ground improvements to 10th and 11th Streets will look as planning continues for an extensive rebuild of the community’s downtown core.

Road surfaces will be reconstructed and there’s to be new sidewalks in some locations along with provisions for greenspace in the area from Copeland through Poulton to Butler and bounded by 10th and 11th.

The intersection of 10th and Poulton is to be the heart of the project, complete with benches and tables with some of those aspects also destined for 11th and Poulton.

Council members, at their Oct. 6 meeting, settled on some of the major design aspects now to be incorporated:

– there’ll be a greenspace/tree boulevard location on the north side of 10th

– Copeland, where it meets Hwy16, will be widened to permit a righthand turning lane

– an existing block retaining wall on the south side of 10th will be kept, meaning that a sidewalk running there will be 1.6 metres wide, narrower than the standard 2 metre width

– there are no immediate plans to remove the Robbie Bell statue and its status is to be discussed at a later date

– the 11 St. southern sidewalk will be replaced from Copeland to Butler. The new sidewalk will be pushed back to the property line so that it can be wider. An original plan had the sidewalk being narrower starting at the Service BC building to allow parallel parking.

– don’t expect to see the standard ‘zebra’ stripes in crosswalks. Instead, council wants to incorporate fish designs to better reflect angling, one of the area’s key attractions.

– upgrades to the lane between 10th and 11th from Poulton Ave to Copeland are to be included to provide long term access to the Kyah Forest Products building.

One other aspect to be confirmed is the width of the sidewalk in front of Pharmsave to ensure it meets the recommended 2 metre width, something that will make it age-friendly for pedestrians.

While the above ground reconstruction will be most visible, downtown improvements include underground work as well, District operations manager Chris Lawrence noted in a memo presented to council.

“The bulk of the underground utility work will involve watermain upgrades and repairs to existing sanitary and storm drainage infrastructure,” he said.

Urban Systems Ltd., which guided the design work on the nearly-completed 9th St. work, will now take the above considerations for 10th and 11th and build them into a package leading to an eventual tendering of the project.

The District will be seeking financial help from the federal and provincial governments to fully pay for the planned projects.

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