Houston's transportation projects are up for discussion. Every few years the Houston-Galveston Area Council assesses which projects should be considered a high priority for funding and implementation. It's all part of the Regional 2025 Plan, broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. H-GAC's Transportation Coordinator Lynn Spencer says one of the major projects they're discussing is the 290/610 Loop interchange.
"We're looking to improve the Hempstead Road to include four managed lanes, some bike lanes and preservation of right-of-way for future light rail possibilities. And so once we get that work completed it will provide relief for the U.S. 290 corridor. At the moment, U.S. 290 is extremely congested and that is now TxDOT's focus."
Most of the actual improvements on 290 will take place around 2011, but the planning starts now and that's where public comment comes in. The 290 project is the biggest one up for discussion. But several localized projects are also under consideration, including a new idea called Liveable Centers. Spencer says they're looking into investing study money into the idea.
"What they're going to do is focus in on a smaller area and make it more transit oriented. So you're going to try to improve the access along some of your local streets by reducing conflict points, by improving the landscaping -- using the landscape to control traffic. And these will be in sort of little pocket areas where you have private investment as well as federal investment in the area and these are to make your areas more pedestrian-friendly."
The Liveable Centers could be developed in the Uptown and Midtown areas as well as densely populated parts of the Second Ward and Southeast Houston. A slew of other projects are on the agenda and Spencer says H-GAC is prepared to receive comments on any transportation issue residents want to bring up.
"When it comes to actually funding projects, it's important for us to know what the public's concerns are because this is where we're spending federal dollars. And it's good for us to know what the community's concerns are because we can bring it back to our policy council and, before they approve all of these projects, we can let them know if there are any major concerns."
The Transportation Improvement Public Meeting is Tuesday evening, from 5:30 to 7:30 at the H-GAC office located on 3555 Timmons Lane. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.