What Do You Give A City For Its Holiday Gift?

December 8, 2005

In Houston's case, more than 350 blocks of Downtown-Midtown streets, wrapped in colorful brick crosswalks, expanded bus diamond lanes, widened sidewalks, new bus shelters, synchronized traffic lights and landscaping.

This month officially marks the completion of the Downtown Midtown Transit Streets Project - a massive $308 million renovation of transit streets in the Central Business District and parts of Midtown. Thanks to METRO's partners in this project - the City of Houston and the Downtown District - much of the city's aging sewer system and water lines were also replaced along with street lanes not used by buses.

To celebrate the occasion and thank area business owners, METRO, the City of Houston and the Downtown District are inviting Houstonians to a party 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday in Main Street Square.

Mayor Bill White, METRO Board Vice Chairman Gerald B. Smith and the Downtown District's Executive Director Bob Eury will host the celebration, which will include live New Orleans jazz music, a Foley's fashion show, visit from Santa and drawing for prizes, including a $1000 Foley's gift card.

"We've worked hard with METRO to get to this stage and make it easier for Houstonians to get to their jobs and to enjoy the many things our Downtown/Midtown areas have to offer," said Mayor White. "This is a milestone we're happy to have reached."

The transit streets project was a key component of METRO's broader plan to build a fully integrated transportation program for Downtown. That includes Houston's first light rail line, which now carries 40,000 riders each day – well ahead of a 2020 projection.

That success, Smith said, has allowed METRO to restructure its bus routes, removing 600 buses from Downtown each day.

"The transit streets project has been the perfect complement to the revitalization of Downtown, which is good for the region as a whole," Smith said. "It is also the foundation for METRO's ambitious plans for the future which will address not only transportation, but general mobility as well."

The District, Eury said, is proud to have partnered with the City and METRO on this visionary mobility project. "The results of building better streets, widened sidewalks with street trees, landscaping, directional signage, fountains, public art and improved street lighting have set the stage for a true revival of Downtown's day and night street scene."