Getting to Know Walkable Texas: Downtown Rockport
When she was a high school student in Rockport – Fulton, my wife was assigned to write an opinion piece for the school paper. She decided to focus on the lack of safe sidewalks, specifically the lack of a sidewalk along Broadway, the street along the ski basin that connects the Key Allegro neighborhood to downtown and the beach.
Rockport was a typical Texas city then — it prioritized large lots and roads for cars. My wife didn’t seem to find much of an audience for her desire to make the town more walkable.
But it looks like Rockport has come a long way since 1999, when my wife left for college. On our holiday visit this year, we saw Broadway’s new sidewalk, and most remarkably, a downtown transformed into a pedestrian-friendly, people-focused place. A four-block stretch has been redesigned with large bulbouts, angled parking, well-marked pedestrian crossings, and a single lane of car travel in each direction, yielding a safe, comfortable shopping district.
You can get an overview from this map:
The local Chamber of Commerce now uses pictures of this area to represent the shopping experience in Rockport-Fulton.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this walkable street design deployed in small town Texas was partially the result of work of the Texas Coastal Watershed Program (TCWP), housed at Texas A&M, which seeks to build more sustainable communities all along the Texas coast.
Dr. John Jacob, the team leader of TCWP, explained that the last several mayors of Rockport have seen the value of building a more walkable urban town core. We’ll be following up with them for a post about how this great four block strip came to be and hear their vision for a sustainable Rockport.
We’re also starting up a series of posts exploring good examples of street design from across Texas. Coming up next: universally accessible movie theater parking lot design in Pharr and a woonerf in San Antonio.
This post is made possible by a grant from Sutliff & Stout, an accident and injury law firm in Houston Texas. The content is Streetsblog’s own, and Sutliff & Stout neither endorses nor exercises any editorial control.