Paving the way, recreating Cullen Blvd
Student Government Association President Cedric Bandoh’s Rebuild Cullen Boulevard initiative culminated in “Cullen Boulevard Redevelopment” Bill UB 50005, which passed Wednesday night in the Senate Chambers. Bandoh established the initiative in 2012 to voice student concerns and push administration to prioritize fixing the state of the street, a state which he called “pathetic.”
“The condition is horrible, and there have been multiple talks for years on trying to do something about it,” Bandoh said. “We have a stadium opening up in the fall, more and more people are choosing Houston — they see the value of our University. We have more people living on campus. This street is not in the condition of a Tier One research university.”
The bill suggests that the space across from the stadium between the Entrance 14 loop and Cougar Place Drive be completely closed off from vehicular traffic. The space would be recreated as a “green space multi-use plaza” that would come under the ownership of the University rather than remain with the city.
“We students have played a big role in shaping the future of the campus. Because of these strong relationships that we have with the administration in the Board of Regents, I’ve been able to build some really strong relationships with them,” Bandoh said. “When you have that climate as a student, you have to capitalize on that and really use that and get a discussion going on campus.”
The multi-use plaza could be used for tailgating, pedestrian space and outdoor programming. Graduate-at-large Senator Charles Haston, who is running for the presidency in this year’s SGA elections, supported Bandoh but was unsure about the costs associated with the reconstruction.
“I think it’s a great idea to shut down that area,” Haston said. “I think we absolutely need the space for tailgating, Frontier Fiesta and other major events.”
Part of Haston’s platform is to facilitate a growth of campus culture and event programming across campus.
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Senator Guillermo Lopez sees the bill as having several positive impacts on campus life.
“I think that if Cullen Boulevard gets fixed, it’ll make the University more pedestrian-friendly by allowing students to go from their classes to the stadium and everything else on that side of campus,” Lopez said. “I also hope it helps in preventing crime by not having a major road cut right through the middle of campus.”
In a Daily Cougar poll that was conducted early last month, 46 percent of students preferred to create an enclosed pedestrian space that connected the core of the University to residence halls and the stadium, while 38 percent preferred to have it repaved so people may drive safely.
Mayor Annise Parker started the Rebuild Houston initiative that would deal with streets, pavement, drainage and other projects on a worst-first basis. Bandoh said it would take three to five years before the city would get to Cullen Boulevard.
Though not all of Cullen Boulevard is addressed by UB 50005, SGA has taken a step in pushing students’ concerns, especially from a largely commuter base. The bill will be sent to the Board of Regents as a suggestion as talks continue between the University and the city about the state of Cullen Boulevard.
“We all know it needs to be fixed,” Bandoh said. “We all know it’s an issue, and this is an attempt to do something about it.”