At METRO’s exciting East End light rail groundbreaking this week, amidst the streamers and fireworks (but apparently NOT scratch-off cards — or an agreement with the contractor actually expected to do the work), Mayor White offered the following boast:
“It may have been said in the past, but it can’t be said now that the city of Houston is overlooking the East End,” Mayor Bill White said to applause from about 200 attendees.
Perhaps the mayor’s Prius and bicycle don’t find their way into the East End on his commute to and from City Hall each day, because KHOU-11’s Brad Woodard reports that funded East End sidewalk improvements are indeed being overlooked by Mayor White’s government:
The City of Houston has a predicament on its hands.
They’ve received millions of federal dollars to build sidewalks intended to keep kids safe going to and from school.
But those sidewalks haven’t been built, and now that money is just sitting there while construction costs rise.
“This is a wealthy city. We shouldn’t see this,” civil engineer Gonzalo Camacho said.
In reality, it’s what you don’t see on many of the East End streets that concerns Camacho.
“The fact is, people live here. They have to walk from here somewhere. The only way people and kids can walk along here is cross the street and go over there. But there’s no crossing here,” Camacho said.
It was Camacho that did a cost analysis and helped the city get the federal grant. They were supposed to use the money to improve sidewalks around six East End Schools.
They got $2.4 million from the Safe Routes to Schools program, all funneled through TXDoT.
“That was in September. September of ’07. It’s June of ’08. Any new sidewalks yet?” Camacho said.
“The funding is available. It has been secured on behalf of the City of Houston, so now it’s up to the City of Houston to secure those funds and implement those projects,” TXDoT’s Raquelle Lewis said.
More specifically, it’s up to the Public Works Department.
So much for not overlooking the East End.