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September 2015

“Wooner-ful” Streetscape Opens in Grisby Square


After view of Fortsmith Street


Before view of Fortsmith Street

Dedication ceremony for The District’s “street for living” set for Sept. 24

Creating a safer, shared street while improving drainage, The Energy Corridor District has opened its Fortsmith Street woonerf in Grisby Square, one of Houston’s iconic restaurant districts.

A dedication ceremony featuring City of Houston public works officials and transportation demand experts is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, September 24, on Fortsmith Street between Stafford and Addicks-Howell streets.

First introduced in the Netherlands, the woonerf – defined as a street for living – has transformed Fortsmith Street from a dirt, sometimes muddy road into a pedestrian-friendly lane that calms traffic and uses permeable pavers to facilitate storm water drainage in the popular restaurant area nestled among rambling Live Oaks, just a stone’s throw from the bustling Katy Freeway.

“We set out to create a shared space that’s both safer and more aesthetically appealing for pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles and business patrons,” explains Clark Martinson, The District’s general manager. “It is a fundamental departure from the standard American approach to traffic management.”

Houston’s new woonerf is as distinct as the rural-tinged nature of Grisby Square, a place that would seem more at home in old agricultural Addicks than in one of the fastest-growing employment centers in the nation.

To get the woonerf built, The District partnered with the City of Houston, which owned the land. After numerous discussions and reviews, city planners approved the project, a radical departure from the city’s design manuals, granting authority to The District to construct the woonerf and change Fortsmith Street into a one-way road.

Designed to heighten Grisby Square’s identity, the Fortsmith Street woonerf enhances its walkable character while complimenting the sprawling shade trees and great local restaurants.

It allows lateral pedestrian access through a series of spaces across the driveway to the Grisby Square restaurants, rather than linear access requiring separate sidewalks. In a woonerf, vehicles may not impede pedestrians, who in turn may not unreasonably hinder the progress of drivers. The woonerf encourages people to share a single travel lane with slow-moving vehicles.

The way the Fortsmith Street woonerf handles storm water drainage is dramatically different than other Houston roads. The woonerf uses an inverted crown roadway and permeable pavers, allowing storm water to pass through to the drainage field below the street. That design improves drainage, while lessening the load on Houston’s storm water system.

The District hopes the woonerf pilot project could serve as a model for creating more walkable, shared streetscapes in Grisby Square and throughout The Energy Corridor.

“Ultimately, we want a highly livable place that’s enjoyable and people-oriented, attracts and retains employees, increases property values and facilitates business development,” explains Martinson.

Join as we celebrate a new shared street in The Energy Corridor.

Please RSVP by September 17 here.

September 2015 Articles

“Wooner-ful” Streetscape Opens in Grisby Square
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Mayor’s Proud Partners Awards Recognize Fortsmith St. Woonerf Project
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