Construction on Kirby to last longer

April 23, 2008 4:41:50 PM PDT
Drivers and business owners along Kirby have possibly two more miserable years worth of construction headaches because of a design error. We're talking about the stretch of Kirby between Bissonnet and Highway 59. The Kirby re-construction is a four-phase process. Phases one through three are basically going according to schedule. But phase four is a problem. Though work on the final phase isn't scheduled for a while, we've learned the process is getting delayed even more.

Construction on Kirby near the Rice Village may be inconvenient, but at least it's underway. A few blocks north near Bissonnet and Kirby, the construction timeline is about to get pushed back.

"You always wish things were planned better," said Ron Pickett, who owns Charisma Car Wash.

Pickett and owners of several neighboring businesses just learned that the contractor who did the street survey for the city made a major measuring mistake. To complete the Kirby reconstruction, the city will now need to take 15 feet of his property along the curb line.

"It makes me feel very nervous because it will be highly detrimental to my business," he said.

The city will now split up phase four of the project into two parts. The portion south of Bissonnet will go on as scheduled with no delays. However, the area north of Bissionnet needs to be redesigned, and that could take a while.

"We'll continue to maintain it and patch it, but we'll redesign it to take into account the additional right of way," said Houston city councilmember Anne Clutterbuck.

Clutterbuck says besides the car wash, the city might need strips of land from Helfman River Oaks and Goode Company Barbecue, businesses that are hoping the delay would result in a compromise that won't take so much of their land.

"Parking's already at a premium and our type of business, we depend on every parking space we have to make ends meet for us and make it work," said Levi Goode with Goode Company.

On Wednesday afternoon, I spoke on the phone with Brown and Gay engineers, the company contracted to do the design work for Kirby. A project manager there told me that historical city records showed the city owned enough land for the Kirby project and no one knew it was a problem until earlier this year.

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