HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston's city council members will make a big decision about a construction project in Third Ward on Wednesday. It's designed to improve drainage and safety in the area, but people who live there said they never signed on to this.
The project involving the county, the city, and Texas Southern University has already started on Blodgett. It takes a four-lane road down to two, with the addition of bike lanes on both sides. The county is footing most of the bill for construction. Precinct 1 has agreed to consider pausing construction to redesign the project, but that would come at an $8 million to $9 million cost for the city.
"We'll deal with it (Wednesday). After (Wednesday), either way it goes, I'm done with this. With all of this," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
There was agitation in his sentiments on Tuesday in response to the difficult decision about what to do with the construction project on Blodgett between Ennis and Scott. People who live in the area said they want drainage improvements and wider sidewalks, but they don't want it tied to reducing traffic lanes to accommodate cyclists.
"We are speaking very loudly, and clearly that bike lanes along Blodgett are not wanted. It's not that the community is anti-bike lanes, but there are much more viable routes." Sharon Evans-Brooks, a member of two civic clubs in the area, said.
She said she also takes issue with the university, city, and county moving forward with the project without asking the community what they wanted.
Commissioner Rodney Ellis is championing the construction and said it's intended to create a complete street that everyone can safely use. His office referred Eyewitness News to a public letter he posted acknowledging the lack of communication and the work that's already started.
"Harris County began construction with the understanding that, based on the city's standards, this project met the community's needs," part of his letter read. "The county is open to exploring options that address concerns recently raised."
Councilmember Carolyn Evans-Shabazz represents this part of Third Ward and said she was prepared to vote against the interlocal agreement that governs the project on Wednesday.
"Because the commissioner moved forward, and he was not authorized to do so, I believe this is the opportunity to ask to amend that ILA. Remove the bike lanes he's already started to construct at Precinct One's expense and stop the project," she said.
Evans-Shabazz said she's encouraged that other councilmembers may consider whether the county should be allowed to move forward with projects like this without approval from the city first.
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