City of Houston to launch sidewalk resilience program in Gulfton, Kashmere Gardens to improve conditions

The city identified the Gulfton and Kashmere Gardens communities as pilot projects for the plan.


Pedestrians created a dirt path where the sidewalk ends at Dashwood and Mullins in Gulfton.

Houstonians have been pushing for more sidewalks and better conditions for existing sidewalks throughout the city. Now the city has completed a plan that could potentially solve some of those issues.

The City of Houston has implemented a new program to examine the conditions of sidewalks, and to create a solution for better pedestrian mobility without impacting flooding. The Resilient Sidewalks Plan is part of Mayor Sylvester Turner's Resilient Houston, an initiative that was rolled out in February 2020 to reduce flooding, and the effects of climate change.

"The Resilient Sidewalks Plan is an in-depth look at the broad inter-connectivity between mobility, sidewalks and drainage for two communities severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in a statement. "With the input from stakeholders and those who live in these communities, we now have a significant toolkit to produce an actionable plan to secure funding for future projects."

The city identified the Gulfton and Kashmere Gardens communities as pilot projects for the plan. Those neighborhoods were severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey, with limited sidewalks and many in poor condition. Donald Buaku, Planner Manager with Houston Public Works, said some might look at sidewalks just for mobility, but it plays a major part in the drainage ecosystem for the environment.

"For a sidewalk to be resilient, it should be able to perform at all times, whether it’s the stresses of the typical ponding, in very large events, which can devastate a whole system," Buaku said. "The sidewalk should be able to provide some continuous use to the residents."

The Gulfton community in Southwest Houston was named one of Houston's hottest neighborhoods in 2020. According to the city, it's the most dense with almost 36 miles of streets with no sidewalks, the highest rates of pedestrian-vehicle crashes compared to the other Complete Communities, drainage is 80% curb and gutter, and 20% of open ditches.

Kashmere Gardens has only 30% of sidewalks and according to the city, 81 miles of sidewalks are missing in the area. The neighborhood also lacks proper drainage infrastructure.

The Gulfton Resilient Sidewalks Plan and the Kashmere Gardens Resilient Sidewalk Plan was created with involvement from the community. Houston Public Works held meetings, conducted surveys, and events. The department said between the two communities, they received over 1,000 responses. Each neighborhood created multiple action items geared towards creating a resilient pedestrian network.

Funding is needed for new sidewalks and existing sidewalks and Buaku said they're looking at potential funding opportunities.

"We applaud the sidewalk fee in lieu that was approved back in January." He said "That is a good start, that will be a good pilot for further engaging communities to fund as well as also targeting a lot of the grant funding that is available on the horizon."

The city approved an ordinance in January to allow residents to opt out of building a sidewalk in front of their property – in exchange of paying $12 per square foot of new sidewalks that would have been constructed if the homeowner agreed to put a sidewalk in place.

Resident Dominic Mazach said he supports the plan, but it could have some adverse effects on both neighborhoods.

"If you put sidewalks into say Kashmere Gardens, is that going to cause property tax increases – that's an area of town where people cannot afford any more tax increases," said. "We got the Metro next project in terms of the boost routes, the university BRT line – I think there needs to be coordination between this body, the City of Houston, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority."

A citywide toolkit was also developed for others to use such as the developers, residents, and city partner agencies to create safe and more reliable sidewalks in existing and new neighborhoods.

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Ashley Brown

Ashley Brown


Ashley Brown is a news reporter at Houston Public Media, News 88.7. She covers a range of topics, primarily focusing on Houston City Hall. Before moving back to Houston in 2022, she worked at WHQR Public Radio in Wilmington, NC where she covered city and county government, homelessness and community...

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