Bagby Street is the first street encountered when entering Downtown from the west and one of few two-way streets in the central district— a key gateway that connects the Theater District and multiple civic institutions such as City Hall, Central Library and Sam Houston Park. In total, Bagby Street connects nine parks and cultural attractions, requiring careful consideration and attention to how the street, buildings and park spaces all interact.
Several studies, including the Theater District Master Plan and Plan Downtown, have identified Bagby as a key pedestrian and vehicular corridor. The street has also been highlighted in the City of Houston Bike Plan as a future bikeway location, to serve as a north-south corridor west of Main Street in Downtown. The corridor provides connections to Buffalo Bayou in several locations, linking Downtown to the broader greenways network.
Due to the multiple plan recommendations, the DRA has prioritized the Bagby Street Improvement Project as it will greatly improve and expand mobility and infrastructure throughout western Downtown. Currently between four and six lanes wide, the project entails reducing Bagby Street to between three and four vehicular lanes to allow for wider pedestrian walkways, a bicycle lane, beautification elements, signature lighting and 79 new trees. The corridor’s storm sewer system will also be updated to meet current requirements, including additional inlets to reduce ponding and considerably improve drainage.
The corridor’s $28.8 million rebuild began with Phase One, a traffic impact analysis and preliminary engineering design, which was awarded to Traffic Engineers, Inc. (TEI), Lockwood, Andrews & Newman, Inc., SWA Group and C.N. Joehl Urban Forest Inc. in July 2017. The final report was completed in April 2018.
Phase Two commenced in March 2018 with a request for qualifications for an Engineering and Design Consultant team; the DRA chose Jones|Carter to lead the project. After an approximately 16-month design period, construction will begin this month and is expected to be complete in December 2021.
The project will be completed in phases. Initial construction will focus on Bagby from Franklin to Walker Streets, primarily on the west side of Bagby, and will necessitate lane closures, but not a full street closure. Work will include pavement demolition, utility updates, tunnel waterproofing investigation and the replacement of trees located on the west side of City Hall and Tranquility Park. The street’s redesign is the first major project in a series of proposed transformative projects that will change the look and feel of the west side of Downtown. Once complete, the thoughtfully designed Bagby Street Corridor will provide a common thread and platform to tie together all the projects.
The project, funded and led by the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, began construction on January 11, 2020 and is expected to be completed in December 2021.