County’s pedestrian plaza mid-way towards completion
By Elsa Maxey
If you’ve had occasion to go to the county courthouse in Richmond, the construction activity between two county buildings is a sure sign that something is about to change there. There’s no more motorist passage on Fourth Street between the historic courthouse and the Travis building, and this is not a temporary thing. But rather, it is intended to become a safer environment for public and employee pedestrian traffic between the buildings.
In September, Fort Bend County will have a new pedestrian plaza in Richmond in the former street area physically dividing the two buildings. Currently under construction, this green space project with a plaza was started last month, and according to Don Brady, director of the county’s facilities management and planning department, the first phase of two that began June 16th involved pavement removal. It was reportedly done by employees of the county’s road and bridge department on Liberty and Fourth streets.
With the one street block take-away between the courthouse and the Travis building, this area is being transformed and it will feature a walkway with landscaping joining the two structures. “Sidewalks, pavers, seating areas and attractive lighting will augment significant landscape plantings and sod, which will be the last improvements in the development sequence,” Brady told the Star about the project underway.
When completed, the plaza will look like what has been referred to as a campus-like setting. Other changes to that area include replacing one block of Liberty with a one-way lane and installing handicap parking spaces. Brady said the second phase of the project will also consist of the “removal of the Travis building’s front parking lot, completion of a rainwater harvesting system that will collect runoff from the roofs of the Travis building and the courthouse, store it in underground tanks, and use it in irrigating the (new) pedestrian plaza and the courthouse grounds.”
The total cost of the pedestrian plaza is about $797,000 for construction, engineering and design, utility relocation and other project related expenses. As reported, the land for the plaza represents a land swap between Fort Bend County and the City of Richmond with the county trading its former jury assembly building property at Houston and Second streets. This is where the city plans to build a new fire station.
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