The presentation slides from last week’s meeting about the street and infrastructure work planned for Fourth Ward between W. Gray and Welch streets are now online — you have until May 6th to email the city about it, if you feel like doing so. The green lines show areas where 50-ft.-plus cross-sections are planned, with anywhere from 7 to 22 ft. of pedestrian space (mostly running 12-to-17 ft., in the not-to-scale drawings). Streets marked in light blue would range from 33 to 36 ft. wide, including only 1 sidewalk and a 2-ft. easement on the opposite side; areas marked in dark purple would also get 1 sidewalk, but both vehicle and pedestrian lanes would be several feet narrower (27 to 30 ft. in total).
The work skirts the southern edge of the not-quite-rectangular Freedmen’s Town National Historic District, which runs north-to-south roughly from W. Gray to W. Dallas St., and east-to-west from Gennessee St. as far west as Arthur St. in some places. Planned street and infrastructure work in that area is currently on hold due to the ongoing court case over preserving the remnants of brick roadways laid by freed slaves in the district, along parts of Wilson and Andrews streets.
Houston Public Media reported last week that representatives of the Freedmen’s Town Preservation Coalition are trying to schedule a meeting with Mayor Turner about the brickwork. Contracted crews began removing the bricks last spring, but were halted by a neighborhood resident laying down on the work site. After that, a district court hearing the preservation group’s lawsuit issued a temporary injunction that stopped further work; the legal fight is ongoing. Members of the preservation group have previously asked that the needed infrastructure work be completed without disturbing the bricks, by laying utility lines under sidewalks or by tunneling under the existing roadways.
- Gray & Taft Area Reconstruction [ReBuild Houston]
- Houston’s Freedmen’s Town Preservation Coalition Will Ask Mayor Turner For Help [Houston Public Media]
- Is it too late to save Freedmen’s Town? [Houston Chronicle]
Image: ReBuild Houston