Mayor, president dedicate redesigned Sunset intersections

Traffic redirected near sites of two tragic accidents

A group of dignitaries and city workers led by Mayor Sylvester Turner and President David Leebron gathered outside Rice’s main entrance Friday morning, dedicating two newly reconfigured intersections that have been redesigned with greater safety in mind.

“Today, I am happy to fulfill a promise that the city of Houston made to this community, and quite frankly to the city as a whole, that these intersections would be safe for pedestrians and cyclists,” Turner said.

crosswalk

(Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

The busy intersections where Sunset Boulevard meets Main and Fannin streets have been the scenes of two tragic accidents in which bicyclists lost their lives. Both Turner and Leebron spoke in memory of Rice professor Marjorie Corcoran and nursing student Sudipta Roy, who were killed as they tried to cross Main Street. Their deaths spurred calls for the city government to make the crossings between Hermann Park and the Rice campus, including the METRORail station that serves them both, much safer.

“I had a specific conversation with President Leebron about the need to do something here,” Turner said.

Turner and Leebron also joined Houston Councilmember Abbie Kamin in thanking Metro for its work on the project.

“The safety and welfare of our students and all in our community come first,” Leebron said. “And we’re very grateful for the changes here that will improve that.”

The reconfigured design changes the driving patterns for vehicles passing through the intersections. Drivers traveling along Sunset toward Hermann Park will no longer be able to turn right onto Fannin, which runs parallel to Main. The city also added curb ramps, bollards and designated crosswalks for pedestrians and bicyclists.

“We’ve also worked on the signal timing to make sure the vehicles and the pedestrians have a much clearer indication of when to cross and when to avoid each other,” said Carol Haddock, the director of Houston’s Department of Public Works and Engineering. “This will protect our pedestrians, and it will also improve the crossing timing for pedestrians and cyclists.”

As a Rice graduate, Haddock took a personal interest in the project. She recalled noticing the intersection was “challenging and intimidating” when she first moved into Brown College in August 1987.

“So I’m very familiar with this intersection,” she said. “I’m very familiar with these main gates. And I am personally happy to be here today.”

About Doug Miller

Doug Miller is director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.