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Sidewalk, traffic light improvements planned for Jaguar Hall


March 27, 2010 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated March 27, 2010 at 10:28 p.m.

Traffic along Business 59 in front of Jaguar Hall,  the former Holiday Inn hotel, is pretty constant day or night. The  city council gave its OK to the University of Houston's request for improvements such as sidewalks and traffic signal light changes.

It may be safer and easier for students who live in Jaguar Hall to get to and from class once the city completes $171,000 in improvements.

Those improvements include building sidewalks from the University of Houston-Victoria to Jaguar Hall, a former hotel being converted into a dorm.

The dorm will house freshmen and sophomores as part of the university's expansion to a four-year college.

Council Member David Hagan said he thinks the improvements are a good investment.

"If they're going to be coming from out of town, we need to make sure they can get to where they're going safely," he said. If the community intends for the expansion to be successful, the city and others need to work closely to help the university, he said.

The university requested the improvements and the city council approved the request.

Public Works Director Lynn Short said the city will fill in the gaps in the sidewalks on the south side of the Houston Highway between Jaguar Hall and Ben Wilson Street.

It will also extend the sidewalk on the east side of Ben Wilson Street from the existing sidewalk in front of the Walgreen Drug Store north to Red River Street.

The final leg involves building a sidewalk along the north side of Red River Street to the first entrance into the campus.

The traffic lights on Ben Wilson Street at the Houston Highway and Red River Street will be modified so students can push a button to change the light and help them cross the road.

There is already a sidewalk on the west side of Ben Wilson Street, so one is being built on the east side to make it easy for students to walk to Walgreen for such things as school supplies and food.

The sidewalks are being designed now and will be four or five feet wide. Short said they are designed to accommodate pedestrians only.

Lt. Ralph Buentello with the Victoria Police Department said it is illegal to ride bikes on pedestrian sidewalks. Short said the walks would have to be eight to 10 feet wide to be designated hike-and-bike trails for bicyclists.

But it is legal to ride bikes on the street as long as the bikers follow all traffic regulations, including making hand signals, Buentello said. One option might be to install a bike lane, but that would depend on such things as cost and width of the road, he said.

Wayne Beran with the university said the school will provide a shuttle for handicapped students, if needed. He said there will be utility poles in the middle of the sidewalk that could cause problems for someone in a wheelchair.

A regular shuttle might also be provided if there appears to be a need for it, he said. One factor that might affect that decision is if students cross the Houston Highway in mid-block.

The university also asked the city to build a sidewalk between Jaguar Hall and the H-E-B Store to the south, but the council declined that request. Council members said it could be reviewed later to see if it's needed.



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