Cleburne rebuild cheered as latest renewal of Third Ward – Houston Chronicle

Not long after she arrived in Houston in June, new Texas Southern University President Lisia Crumpton-Young said campus and elected officials in Third Ward should be “walking the walk and not talking the talk.” Along Cleburne Street, adjacent to the university, meeting that challenge in large part was about making it possible to walk at all.

Officials on Monday cheered completion of the first of a series of street improvements in Third Ward — historically neglected when sidewalk and street money was doled out — aimed at making streets safer, smoother and more able to remain open rather than flooded during Houston’s frequent storms. The work was paid for mostly by Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis’ office.

“Every community should have safe streets,” Ellis said at an event marking the completion of construction.

The work, along Cleburne from Scott to Ennis, replaces the dilapidated asphalt street with a new concrete roadway and adds more space for pedestrians and bicyclists around the Texas Southern campus, along with drainage improvements.

“What you have done is fundamentally transform this community,” said former Houston Councilman Carroll Robinson, a professor at TSU’s Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs.

Construction on Cleburne started in February 2020, days before COVID complicated commutes and construction crews. Though expected to take 12 months, work slowed at points, wrapping up only last month.

Officials noted it is a $12 million investment in the area, part of a total $43.1 million commitment to five streets in Third Ward. Ellis and others have said the area has been neglected over time as investment in streets went to other areas of the city. Ellis kick-started the projects, pledging $30 million in Harris County funds in 2018.

The first day Crumpton-Young drove to her office as president of TSU this summer, one of the things she noticed was Cleburne Street.

“I thought look at that beautiful road,” Crumpton-Young said Monday.

If she had showed up just a few months earlier, it is unlikely her first impression would have been the same. The road between the TSU and Cuney Homes, a subsidized housing complex, was pocked and problematic. On good days it was a suspension-rattling mess with uneven sidewalks that sent bicyclists into the street.

Rainy days were even worse: dark, dismal and often offering a surprising pothole or out-of-place curb.

Now, Cleburne can claim in some ways the same features — or beginnings of them — of Sunset, along the Rice University campus a few miles away. Wide shared-use bicycle and walking paths line both sides of the street, buffered by a strip of grass. Ellis’ office opted to plant 240 trees, more mature ones that initially planned to offer shade — increasing the total landscaping cost to $2.8 million.

Lighting also was added to Cleburne, making trips along the street more visible and, therefore, safer, officials said.

“I can see the things that can happen in a community when you don’t have lights,” said Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee, who lives a few blocks away.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who partnered with Ellis to commit $3.7 million in city funds for various improvements in the area, said the design reflects both the campus and the community’s need for reinvestment.

“Every resident ought to know they should not have to leave their respective neighborhood to enjoy the finer things in life,” Turner said.

[email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Lake Jackson couple drowns while on vacation in Turks and Caicos –
Next post Coronavirus: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo lowers COVID-19 threat level to ‘moderate’ despite discovery of new variant Omicron – KTRK-TV