With his giant yellow tape measure, walkability expert Dan Burden darts into Navigation Boulevard.
Burden is showing neighbors how angled parking can help slow down truck traffic on the way to the ship channel. That’s good news to longtime resident Gloria Moreno who says some of her older neighbors have a tough time getting around because the sidewalks don’t have ramps.
“So when you have seniors or people in wheelchairs, children walking on streets with big trucks coming along, it’s very unsafe.”
Moreno was one of the people taking park in Burden’s pedestrian audit. Burden is the executive director of the Walkability and Livable Communities Institute. He was brought in as part of the East End Management District’s redevelopment efforts. Part of that effort is making the neighborhood easier to get around, for people who walk or use scooters, and for those who ride the bus.
“We’re looking at ways in the historic core, that is the old trolley car neighborhoods, how do we get the speeds down so we can support people living, and then being able to walk, live in place, age in place.”
Navigation is a shady four-lane boulevard with a large grassy median. It’s lined with restaurants and other neighborhood businesses. It’s east of downtown, and just blocks from the new Dynamo Stadium. Burden says angled parking with one lane of traffic in each direction would encourage drivers to slow down. There also needs to be curb cuts so people who use mobility devices can easily cross the street. Burden adds the improvements aren’t just for residents.
“With the new investments coming in, especially the soccer stadium, it’s really important that people be able to walk through the area, park their cars further out if they choose to. Truly the road will support that with the new designs, the new concept of keeping the speeds slow but keeping the traffic moving.”
The East End Management District is getting help in its efforts through a $5 million federal stimulus grant. District president Diane Schenke says some of Burden’s recommendations are already in the works.
“We will be doing six-foot sidewalks for eleven blocks here, basically from York down to Jensen. And then we will be doing special esplanade treatments.”
The Management District says it’s also pursuing funding for other projects. Burden says once the district makes improvements, businesses will be encouraged to move in, and that will generate more revenue for city and the neighborhood.