Keeping Sidewalks Clear of the Utility Poles on Yale

Inspired by the photo tour of sidewalk-blocking utility poles along Harrisburg Blvd. featured earlier this week on Swamplot, a reader wonders if anyone might pay similar attention to the poles left lining the west side of Yale St. in front of the San Jacinto Stone property south of I-10 after the street was widened (and a row of street trees removed) to accommodate a new left-turn lane at Koehler St. for the coming Walmart:


The tall steel poles (shown above at the corner of Koehler) were installed a few years ago, notes the reader; the wood poles were relocated for the widening. But the sidewalk that might connect them in an entertaining fashion hasn’t been replaced. “While disabled folks on the eastside may have to pull a Dukes of Hazzard style sideways wheelie to get down the street,” comments the reader, “at least they have that option.. . . they are probably kicking the can down the road to whoever develops the San Jacinto Stone property.”

Photos: Swamplot inbox

15 Comment

  • Cool story, bro.

  • This is insane there is no sidewalk, Wal-Mart needs to step it up. Many handicap people shop there.

  • Who cares?

    Nobody’s going to walk across White Oak Bayou to get to Wal-Mart or anything else that might get built on the San Jacinto Stone site. If they’re just passing through or walking for recreation’s sake, there’s a brand new sidewalk across the street and a trail extension going in on Heights Blvd. one block over.

    There is also no compelling rationale that a sidewalk at this location would enable the use of public transportation.

    What pisses people off about the sidewalks along a light rail corridor is that METRO was willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a fancy transportation system for which safe pedestrian accessibility is an integral component. Realizing this, City spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to solicit the opinions of planning professionals as well as the citizenry in order to determine a set of codes governing these corridors. They passed the new ordinance, then promptly waived its requirements from a transit agency that should’ve built it to code in the first place out of self-interest, with or without the City’s input.

    THAT is fucked up, and it is beyond comparison with this situation.

  • Agreed,Niche. Sidewalks, or lack of sidewalks, should not be as much of a concern given the situation in that area. However, why can’t the citizenry have a say through a proper planning group that is somewhat autonomous from city hall? Feckless, yet, motivated comes to mind…

  • To be perfectly clear, the Transit Corridor Ordinance was passed a year or two after the consent agreement was signed, with the implicit variance on the right of way standard. However, from the outset of the City’s planning process a couple of years before the agreement went to Council, the powers that be stated that the City would not push METRO to acquire more right of way through the consent agreement. I am told by someone else who was involved in planning from METRO’s end that the City refused to allow less than 12 foot driving lanes, which of course further tightened what would be available behind the curb. So even as the City was talking like it would be trying to improve the environment for pedestrians in the transit corridor, it was contradicting that talk through its actions.

  • Hasn’t it been about the Heights Walmart for long enough?

    Folks are getting tired of hearing about “their” perceived problems.

  • The developer got 6 mil in tax dollars to do public improvements and we actually end up losing a city block of sidewalk (that segment used to have a sidewalk) and cannot drive a Chevy Suburban over the bridge. Even without the 380 agreement, no other developer in the City of Houston would ever get away with not replacing a sidewalk after making road improvements.
    @Niche: The SE quadrant of the Heights has the largest population of low income residents, especially if you include the apartment complexes on Shepherd. All they have to do is get on the 7th st bike path to go to Walmart. On a nice day, it is actually easier to walk there than take the bus which does not run on Yale st.
    This is just as bad if not worse than the metro debacle. The developer got tax dollars specifically to build wider sidewalks. And for pedestrians, the utility poles in the sidewalks are just unattractive. They still have a sidewalk they can use as long as they don’t bury their heads in an iPhone. But for handicapped folks, both instances are inexcusable.
    But this isn’t really a story about Walmart or Metro. It is about how the City is iron fisted with anyone building in the City unless you are one of their favorites. Then the rules become guidelines and variances are granted as a matter of right.

  • Stop blaming the developer for the sidewalk going away. When Centerpoint installed the steel transmission lines, they installed them RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK, which effectively eliminated any possible use of the sidewalk long before this development came along. The whiners are just grasping at straws for anything that might possibly have a negative effect on the ability of Walmart to operate. That is all any of this is about – what can they do to interfere with Walmart? Of course, they don’t give a shit when they are in a line around the building at Starbucks every morning.

  • That side of Yale has bigger problems for pedestrians, and they are on the other side of the bridge and under I-10. but that’s not the point, is it? Obviously Walmart should have to pay for every bit of sidewalk on the entirety of Yale street.

  • Jason: BS. Centerpoint did not install them in the middle of the sidewalk. They were right next to the existing sidewalk in line with the wooden poles. When they widened Yale to add the left turn lane, they dug out the earthen berm that had the live oak trees next to the sidewalk (look at google maps). That left the sidewalk in place, but there was about a three to four foot cliff from the existing sidewalk to where the curb for the widened road needed to be. They then removed the sidewalk and installed a retaining wall where the sidewalk used to be because they could not build a retaining wall through the steel poles and did not want pedestrians to run the risk of falling off the curb and into traffic.
    The developer and the City had 6 mil to play with to deal with situations exactly like this. All they had to do was eminent domain about a 4-6 foot strip of unused land from San Jacinto Stone and build a real sidewalk (the City already spent over a mil to buy the land for the Koehler Ave cut through). But, instead, the developer got money for a jogging path to nowhere, paint and lighting for a bridge that will eventually be demolished and money for drainage detention that was never done. You can put a Walmart in my neighborhood all you want, but do not expect me to just suck it up when my tax dollars are used to accomodate increased traffic at the expense of pedestrian mobility.
    As for your whiner comment, you couldn’t be more off base. Not having a sidewalk there is bad for Walmart. Pedestrians will have to cross Yale St. and cross back again in order to get to the Walmart. That is bad for Walmart’s business. If the “whiners” got what they wanted, they would actually be helping Walmart.

  • Old School, your tax money pays for all the useless BS that you just spelled out and much more…and always has and always will. it seems your only issue in most of these threads is that it’s being given to a company rather than the city to decide it’s useless fate. if you really find this to be such a thorn in your side why not address it at the heart of the matter, with the city politicians, rather than waste your time complaining about an issue that is nothing more than a single example out of thousands…if not more.

    i see folks in wheelchairs rolling down the street over in 3rd ward / south park all the time. what makes east end and heights folks so much better to where they can’t do the same?

  • Old School, you are simply wrong. Centerpoint installed the steel transmission lines directly in the middle of the existing sidewalk. They are so large they spanned from one edge of the sidewalk to the other. I saw it with my own eyes.

  • Did joel really just suggest that the proper place for wheelchairs is in the street?? Riiiiiight….

  • I’ve gotta tell ya’ll, I’m pretty stoked with all the talk about powerlines lately. I’ve gotten on my soapbox in many a coversation with my wife over their ill effects in our urban environment.

    Burying might be costly in comparison, but how much more expensive is it to put the poles up behind the property instead of infront of it?

    Power poles are a greater blight on our urban aesthetics than strip clubs and billboards, but it’s so seldom they are noticed. Average Joe takes them so much for granted he doesn’t even realize they’re there until a wind storm knocks them down.

  • The 380 was supposed to make this development better specifically as to sidewalks.

    You can’t walk to the part of the development where Jimmy John’s is from the Yale Street Bridge using a crosswalk without taking a detour on maybe Heights or Center.

    Check out the crosswalks installed at the corner of Yale and Koehler. There are only 2 crosswalks, and they both go to the NW corner which has no sidewalks.

    Can you say Crosswalks to Nowhere?