Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Texas Southern University Acting President Kenneth Huewitt on Thursday participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a $10.4 million Cleburne Street construction project that will improve safety, mobility and drainage in the Third Ward community.
The Cleburne improvements between Ennis and Scott are part of $30 million Commissioner Ellis pledged last year to invest in reconstructing Cleburne and five other streets in the TSU-University of Houston corridor. The projects will improve safe mobility for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders. In addition, drainage improvements will help reduce street flooding during heavy-rain events. Also included will be lighting for safety and landscaping features to beautify the areas.
“We dubbed this project the University Corridor,” Commissioner Ellis said. “Well Cleburne will be the official corridor because it connects TSU, UH, Metro rail on Scott and everything in between including Yates High School and Cuney Homes. The Cleburne redevelopment will enhance this beautiful campus and improve the quality of life for students, staff, visitors and the surrounding neighborhood. This is a needed investment in Third Ward.”
Said Mayor Turner: “I cannot say enough about how thankful we are to have a Harris County Commissioner who is willing to partner with the City of Houston to improve streets and sidewalks near Texas Southern University and in one of my Complete Communities. Every community deserves to be a safe and attractive place to live, work, play, study and worship.”
On the Cleburne project, Precinct One will contribute a little over $9.5 million and the city will pay $813,027.
“Cleburne Street represents the front door to Texas Southern University,” said TSU Acting President Huewitt. “It also links three historic Third Ward educational institutions – TSU, University of Houston and Yates High School. It is critical that this street reflects the hope that education brings to so many. The improvements resulting from this project will go a long way to not only improve mobility for this community, but also give Cleburne Street a much-needed facelift.”
At a news conference at a pedestrian entrance to TSU campus at Cleburne and Tierwester, Commissioner Ellis, Mayor Turner and Acting President Huewitt outlined the Cleburne project and expanded on its benefits to the university and the neighborhoods. They were joined by Councilmember Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, Yates High School principal Tiffany Gillory and two TSU students who worked on the project as interns.
TSU Phase I improvements to Cleburne between Ennis and Scott streets consist of reconstruction of concrete curb and gutter roadway with 8- to 10-foot sidewalks for people walking or biking. It also includes a drainage system, waterline and streetscape enhancements like new street lighting, irrigation system and trees. The improvements will help reduce flooding in the area and will represent a major investment in the Third Ward community.
Work has started on the portion of Cleburne between Ennis and Tierwester and is expected to take 12 months to complete. A contract for the section between Tierwester and Scott is expected to be awarded later this year and completed in seven months.
Other streets slated for improvements near TSU are Blodgett (Scott to Ennis); Tierwester (Blodgett to Rosewood) and Rosewood (Tierwester to Scott). The streets near UH are Cullen (North MacGregor Way and Interstate 45); and Wheeler (Cullen to Scott).
“In total, both the Cleburne and Cullen projects represent a significant investment in safe, walkable streets that will benefit everyone in the Third Ward community,” Commissioner Ellis said. “This is an important example of how local governments and partners – Harris County, the City of Houston, TSU and UH – can achieve more by working together and leveraging our resources to better serve the community.”