Kirby Drive Beautification

Kirby Drive is about to get a make-over. The city of Houston is tearing up the busy street to put in new flood drainage and a number of community groups are jumping in on the project so that when the city starts repaving Kirby the street and intersections will have a completely new look. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports.

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Kirby Drive between Westheimer and Holcombe is one of the busiest streets in the city. It's also notoriously bumpy and difficult to navigate. Jay Rogers is the president of IBC Bank, which sits near the corner of Kirby and Sunset.

"This is ugly if you're standing out here today looking at it. We've just got a lot of traffic. This is a major corridor, there's a lot of business here. But there need to be improvements. And really if you look out there today, you might be a little afraid to cross the street and that's one of our key focuses -- we do have a lot of pedestrian traffic and we want to try to create some focal points that will allow pedestrians to cross the street safely."

Rogers, who also chairs the Intown Chamber of Commerce, is part of the Kirby Coalition -- a group of residents and businesses who joined together to beautify Kirby Drive. Jamie Brewster co-chairs the Kirby Coalition and says they realized the city's storm sewer reconstruction provided the perfect opportunity to overhaul the look of major intersections along Kirby.

"One of the things we're doing is in the intersections we're placing a Texas-type star and that will be at all the major intersections from Holcombe north to Westheimer, eventually over the next three years. And we'll also have safety crosswalks that will have brick pavers. And there'll be some additional lighting at the corners and recognition for the different contributors who are making this happen."

The Coalition is hoping for a cohesive look that will give Kirby the feel of a unified district -- similar to what was done in the Galleria and Uptown Park area. They're calling it the Kirby All-Stars. As Brewster mentioned, each intersection will have a large Texas star in the pavement. There will also be banners on the light poles, brick crosswalks, and signature lighting and sidewalk furniture. Coalition Co-Chair Kathy Easterly.

"We're not trying to make Kirby the same from one end to the other. There are individual neighborhoods and business groups like the Rice Village and you've got River Oaks and Old Braeswood and all points in between. And so we don't envision sort of tampering with their individual personalities of their neighborhoods -- they all have their own neighborhood character and flavor. What we were looking for were commonalities that would unify Kirby -- link it all together as a premiere boulevard."

The first phase of the Kirby All Stars project will cost $2 million. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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