Trees, trees, and more trees define new and improved Caroline Street

They say the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second-best time is now. On Earth Day 2022, the Midtown Redevelopment Authority (MRA) has some new information about how it is putting that wise advice into practice for the Caroline Street Reconstruction project

How many trees?

We have preserved 71% of the existing trees, reports MRA Director of Engineering and Construction Marlon Marshall. In addition, there are 192 new trees, for a total of 1,269 total caliper inches of new or existing trees. Together, all those trees have the capacity to absorb nearly 100,000 gallons of rainfall each year. That is enough water to fill an entire football field to a depth of 2.7 inches.

The trees will also help clean the air we breathe by converting more than 29,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into oxygen annually, the equivalent of taking three gas-guzzling vehicles off the road for an entire year.

MRA’s environmentally sensitive approach to the Caroline Street project also includes the addition of rain gardens. Capable of treating 214,513 gallons of water during a storm that dumps an inch of rainfall on the area, the rain gardens will help reduce area flooding.  

A more walkable neighborhood

The significant increase in tree canopy will provide shade to address the heat island effect. Prior to construction, approximately 18% of the pedestrian realm was shaded. When the new trees reach maturity, nearly 85% of the pedestrian realm will be covered in shade. In addition, the positioning of the trees between the roadway and sidewalk creates a buffer that increases the comfort level for pedestrians. All these enhancements combine to create a stunning, environmentally friendly, and safer commuting experience that accommodates the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike.

The Caroline Street redesign, which stretches from Pierce Street to Houston Community College, aligns perfectly with MRA’s 2022 Capital Improvement Survey. Respondents picked parks and green space, mobility, and mixed-use development as their top three answers for how MRA should spend its money. 

The project is a partnership between MRA and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). MRA funded the design work and most of the construction. Because of its attractive design, the project was awarded a $5.5M construction grant from the State of Texas. Due to the project receiving the state grant, TXDOT is managing the actual construction work.

As of its mid-March update, TXDOT reports the project is 99.1% complete. Workers are now focusing on the sidewalk and intersection ramps and installing lighting, trash receptacles, bike racks, and signage.