University street to get timely upgrade
By the Advocate Editorial Board
Sept. 13, 2017 at 5:06 p.m.
As the torrential and unrelenting rains of Hurricane Harvey poured down on our region, closing roadways and cutting off communities, the Crossroads received a somber reminder that street development is about more than traffic flow and bottlenecking concerns. Proper drainage also needs to be taken into consideration when building and developing routes in flood-prone areas.
During the worst of the flooding, the University of Houston-Victoria was turned into what looked like oceanfront property as floodwaters swelled on Ben Wilson Street. The street has long been advocated by the university as a prime candidate for an upgrade, and this storm showed improvements on the roadway are desperately needed.
Although no one could have predicted Hurricane Harvey's intensity, UHV's plan for the section of Ben Wilson Street near the university takes into account the consequences of flooding and the need to prevent it. In addition to offering improved safety for pedestrians, the updated street would include retention ponds to help capture water that would block the streets during a hurricane or other heavy rainfall.
At their meeting Tuesday, the City Council gave unanimous approval to move forward with the Ben Wilson Street improvement project. This important step shows the city's dedication to aiding the university's growth and partnering with university officials to improve the city.
Of course, officials still need to dot some I's and cross some T's before the project can formally begin; the city needs to transfer property to the university via contract before university officials can work there, and the details have yet to be sorted out. Nonetheless, after two years of discussion and various concerns raised, Tuesday's motion is a welcome sign that the city is finally giving its full support to this project.
Natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey are notorious for exposing a city's weaknesses, and one of the most important things local officials can do in the wake of such a disaster is identify these weaknesses and find ways to improve. To be sure, drainage on Ben Wilson Street is only one component of this project, one that seemed comparatively uninteresting three weeks ago. But as we move forward with this project and others like it, we should remember Harvey and keep in mind the importance of proper drainage in a modern city.
This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.