Eastwood residents fear closing street could have deadly consequences

Things got heated at an Eastwood community meeting over concerns that emergency services may not be able to reach their homes after the city of Houston closed an intersections where Sherman Street crosses the railroad tracks.
August 21, 2013 8:32:52 PM PDT
Things got heated at an Eastwood community meeting over concerns that emergency services may not be able to reach their homes.

The concerns come after the city closed intersections near where Sherman Street crosses the railroad tracks, near Marsden Street.

The city admits it's made a mistake and that's why it's halted the project. Now some residents want whatever work that's been completed undone.

While most in this Eastwood neighborhood would like to live in a quiet zone, it's the side effect of the project that has some angry.

"That street closure, Sherman and the railroads, is exactly where, maybe three weeks ago, there was a railroad accident and they needed to evacuate the neighborhood. And that street is shut off," neighbor Maria Selva said.

Some residents don't want Sherman to be closed at the crossing. The city is installing a quiet zone, a federal designation with specific grades to limit train noise.

"We're sorry. All we can say is it's not intentional, we're trying to make it right," said Jeff Weatherford with the City of Houston Public Works Department.

But they admit they made a mistake before starting in not notifying all the neighbors.

"If the community wants the streets back open, then we're willing to do that. If they want the quiet zone, then we're willing to do that as well," Weatherford said.

The concerns over the road closure range from traffic at nearby elementary schools, to EMS response.

"The way I tried to explain it, 30 or 40 seconds in a fire or emergency, that could be life or death for somebody," Oakland Fullerton Civic Association member Mary Rodriguez said.

Nearby, Harrisburg is dealing with light rail construction and Canal has had a recent lane reduction.

There are those at the meeting who say leave it closed and quiet.

"I enjoy like the quiet zone. For me, I want to be treated like I'm in West U," one resident said.

If the city decides the majority want it reopened, it will cost thousands of dollars to undo the work.

The Department of Public Works is taking written comments until September 14.

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