Gulfton community leaders are celebrating news of a half-million-dollar federal grant headed their way to enhance mobility for residents of the densely populated community.

The $552,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant will allow the City of Houston’s “Reconnecting Communities: Gulfton and Beyond Study” to be used to design future connections between Gulfton and crucial destinations separated from the neighborhood by freeways and other busy thoroughfares.

“We are excited that Gulfton is one of the first recipients of the federal Reconnecting Communities planning grant,” said Houston City Councilman Edward Pollard, whose District J jurisdiction includes Gulfton. “I believe the results of this study will show where opportunities are to create better access for our residents to jobs, entertainment and city services.”

Reconnecting Communities is the first-ever federal program designed to link communities like Gulfton that were previously somewhat isolated by transportation infrastructure. The study directly supports the City of Houston’s Gulfton Complete Communities Action Plan and will build from recently completed improvements to Hillcroft Avenue.

“This grant will provide the community with the opportunity to build the vision they want to see in this corridor,” said Sandra Rodriguez Lerma, president of Gulfton Super Neighborhood Council 27.“It will improve multimodal options and safety, and create opportunities for people to connect to employment, school, and recreational activities.”

“For far too long,” she added, “students traveled to Wisdom High School in unsafe conditions from Gulfton, as did I when I was a student there. This initiative coupled with additional community plans is creating a Gulfton of opportunities where the people’s voice is at the center of uplifting their community.”

The study will allow the City of Houston Planning and Development Department to carry out a 12-month planning process to study and design connections across these barriers by working with residents and agency partners.

The study will help pave the way for more connections to Houston’s “most densely populated, diverse, and transit-dependent neighborhood,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. Gulfton residents “face many physical barriers in getting around their neighborhood,” he added, referring to the Southwest Freeway, Westpark Tollway and other routes.

The Reconnecting Communities: Gulfton and Beyond study will build from the recently completed Gulfton streets with new crossings, bikeways, and transit stops. The study will propose extensions of the project to to crucial destinations along with new crossings, bikeways and transit stops.

“Gulfton is a vibrant part of Texas’ Seventh Congressional District, and I am thrilled that the U.S. Department of Transportation will award the City of Houston more than half a million dollars for the Reconnecting Communities: Gulfton and Beyond Study,” said U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston.

“This investment in Houston’s most dense and transit-dependent neighborhood will enhance multimodal accessibility, increase economic opportunities, and improve overall wellbeing for surrounding communities, enabling Houstonians to travel safely to and from work, school, and other destinations,” she said. “I was glad to partner with city and Gulfton community leaders to advocate for this grant, and I look forward to continuing our work together to bring improvements of all kinds back home.”