City halts network node work blocking NW Houston sidewalk

Construction work on a cell phone pole placed in the middle of a sidewalk in the Spring Branch area has been put on hold after a KHOU 11 story that ran on Tuesday.

The City of Houston’s Department of Public Works and Engineering says a KHOU 11 story prompted engineers to halt a project underway in the Spring Branch area.

A network node being installed along Kempwood Drive was erected in the middle of the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into mud or the busy street.

Alanna Reed, spokeswoman for Public Works, said the node was approved to be built in the public right-of-way, but “approved drawings did not authorize the pole to be placed in the middle of the sidewalk.”

A notice from the City Engineer was posted on that node late Tuesday, reading “Do not proceed with any more work at this site until you call me and set up a meeting. Call before work.”

Reed said the city is now working with the contractor and the sidewalk is being rerouted around the pole. She says she predicts the project to be completed within the next two weeks.

“This is not a typical occurrence and to prevent situations like this from happening again, the Department of Public Works and Engineering is more closely monitoring plans and inspections for cellular network nodes,” Reed said in a statement.

Disability advocates, such as Southwest ADA Center Director Lex Frieden, consider this a win.

“We work so hard to provide access to people in our community,” he said. “So many people now are becoming older and disabled, it’s hard to get around back and forth to the bus stop, the grocery store. Wherever you’re going in the community, you depend on the sidewalks.”

Frieden said, while he’s happy the city is addressing the issue on Kempwood Drive, there are similar examples of poles interfering with sidewalk traffic, including a utility pole along Almeda Road near MacGregor Way.

“This is a challenge we have to keep working on,” he said. “People should report to 311 or to the Mayor’s Office on Disability whenever they find these kinds of barriers. The city seems to be eager to help resolve the issues.”

Reed also encouraged anyone dealing with an issue the city can correct to call 311.

To view an interactive map of where permitted nodes will be erected, click here and follow these steps:
- Click "GIMS"
- Once the map opens, click "Data Layers"
- Select "Permits"
- Check "DAS Sites"

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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