Houston’s Energy Corridor Gets A ‘Woonerf’ Street

It’s a type of roadway that’s been popular in Europe for decades and now there’s one in west Houston. We visit a place in the Energy Corridor where it’s okay to walk in the street.

Fortsmith Street Woonerf Project

Just a couple of blocks from where the Katy Freeway roars past Highway 6, there’s Grisby Square, a quiet neighborhood with tree-lined streets and locally-owned restaurants.  And the pace is about to get even slower with the addition of the Fortsmith Street Woonerf.

The concept of the woonerf comes from The Netherlands, and it’s a shared space for cyclists and walkers.  Clark Martinson with the Energy Corridor District says cars can also use it because it’s designed in a way where they can’t go very fast.

“So you’re starting basically from no speed,” says Martinson. “And then as you’re looking for a parking space or driving through, there is a skew to the center line of the street, so you actually have to turn as you drive through the street.”

The Fortsmith project transformed a one-block street that was formerly an abandoned right-of-way. It was also prone to flooding but Martinson says they’ve now fixed it.

“When it rains there are no puddles,” Martinson explains. “You just walk down the street and the water is already filtered between the bricks and into the detention area below it.”

Martinson adds the woonerf is part of a bigger effort to promote walking in the neighborhood. They’re also hoping to add a bike share sometime in the future.


Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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