HCTRA Open Road Playbook

TEI led the HCTRA Open Road Playbook to identify potential sites to host “open road” events, also known as “open street” events on Harris County Toll Roads. The intention of the open road/street concept is to temporarily shut down publically owned roads or streets to vehicles and open the infrastructure for people walking, biking, and rolling to improve health and boost the economy in new ways. With HCTRA’s new mission to serve all Harris County residents, the agency was looking for ways to quickly serve all people with a variety of mobility needs in innovative ways.

The Playbook identifies three concepts centered around health equity (HCTRA for Heart), transit connections (HCTRA:Connect), and a groundbreaking concept to temporarily close over 88 miles of the Sam Houston Tollway (HCTRA Orbit Ride). All three of these concepts were informed by four Guiding Principles (Groundbreaking, Safe, Equitable, & Accessible) and an in-depth study of successful events across North and South America. Within each of the three open road concepts, TEI analyzed travel volumnes, transit, bikeway, and sidewalk connectivity, demographics, and identified potential detour corridors. Additionally, “anchor points” were identified to serve as the event’s starting and ending point. Each anchor point was preliminarily evaluated for suitability to host a large event including transit, bikeway, and sidewalk availability and quality.

TEI hosted three strategic planning workshops with HCTRA staff to develop an implementation plan for the Playbook. The implementation plan expanded on six overarching recommendations to action items and assigned each to departments within the agency. These exercises helped fill gaps, clarify capacity and staffing, and build cross-departmental buy-in. The plan was approved by Commissioners Court in April 2022 and funds have been allocated to plan the first event in 2023.

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