A Slow Digital Drive Through Westheimer’s Hypothetical 2-Lane Future

Here’s your chance to see in first person what the city’s come up with for that under-discussion redo of Westheimer Rd. in Montrose. The video above flies viewers slowly through a flatly rendered Westheimer corridor east of Shepherd Dr. (complete with digital versions of all your favorite ex-clothing shopsstoried condo buildings, and paired Mattress Firms) with the new street plan in place. Reality check with the existing state of the roadways happens at a handful of the corridor’s intersections.

The biggest change: A drop down to 2 lanes of car traffic in most places (versus the 4 narrow lanes currently in place), beginning around Huldy St. and moving east. The road would briefly widen back out to 4 lanes around the crossing of Montrose Blvd., then back down to 2 until the name swap to Elgin St. at Bagby St. All that slimming down leaves room for wider sidewalks; the plan also includes some set-aside zones for bus drop-off, some left turn lanes, and a few stretches of parallel parking areas, highlighted in pink.

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The whole plan is available right here in PDF-form from the city. Love it? Hate it? Worked out a totally different scheme in your freetime? You’ve got until the end of the month to let the city know — here’s the comment form.

Video: Houston Planning Department

Montrose Flyby

25 Comment

  • Do it yesterday!

  • No major flaws from what I can see, just obvious compromises in what is an unfortunately narrow RoW. Seems to be the best solution to meet the desires of the residents over those using the street as a thoroughfare.

    Yes, there will be backups whenever someone needs to turn left on a smaller street, or is challenged at parallel parking, but this already happens.

    As a side note, I hope I start seeing rusty-red painted bus lanes here like other cities with significant bus traffic. Otherwise we’ll just see a repeat of the “bus only” lanes downtown that are so very well disregarded.

  • Great, so now drivers won’t have any way to avoid METRO’s potholes and ruts?
    .
    And since it’s such a hot topic as of late, is the plan for wider sidewalks to accommodate bicycles or are they still expected to slum it on the streets with cars & buses in the one lane?
    .
    I’m fine with it, but I don’t live within a couple blocks of Westheimer which would probably give me a different viewpoint. But this is only part of the full plan, right? Theirs more proposals on the way about how to manage E-W through traffic?
    .
    My concern is this will push more traffic onto the arterial roads like Fairveiw that are more dangerous for pedestrians and even less capable of managing that traffic. Alabama is a POS and W. Gray /Richmond are long diversions. Just don’t want the Westheimer issues to be moved to different roadways which I’m sure is a big concern for all involved in these decisions.

  • @joel re: “is the plan for wider sidewalks to accommodate bicycles?” No, the top priorities of those who commented were walking and traveling by bus. Alabama will be getting a bike lane and Fairview is designated as a bike route, so those will be the preferred E-W bike routes.
    .
    re: “this is only part of the full plan, right?” This is the first design proposal and anyone is free to comment by the 31st. There’ll be another round of design and commenting.
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    Re: “My concern is this will push more traffic onto the arterial roads” Their study showed Westheimer gets about the same amount of traffic as Alabama, which is two lanes. Currently Westheimer is effectively only 2 lanes anyway with restrictive lane widths, parallel parking in parts, and nearly impassible potholes all along.
    .
    Re: “Alabama is a POS” – it’s getting rebuilt in the next few years

  • It’s probably the best solution for the much-too-narrow-for-4-lanes that they have now, but I agree with Joel’s concerns about it pushing traffic to West Alabama (which, in spite of the massive rebuild about 10 years ago, is already almost as bad as Westheimer). Still, if the traffic gets bad enough, maybe the commuters will decide to try using the bus, or demand better mass transit.

    Though the wider sidewalks seem to go along with an attitude of “if we build it, they will come” from the local management district, and even the city in general. It’s as though they’re trying to force Montrose/Westheimer into a walkable area, when it’s full of strip centers and parking lots.

  • Re: “It’s as though they’re trying to force Montrose/Westheimer into a walkable area, when it’s full of strip centers and parking lots”
    .
    Westheimer is one of the few places in Houston you’ll see groups of people walking around to get from place to place, with all of its antique stores, clothing stores, bars, and restaurants in close proximity to each other. If you ever try to walk down Westheimer you’ll notice how dangerous it feels in certain spots. This plan is an overdue correction needed to address how people actually desire to travel here.

  • I’d like to see a dedicated bike lane down wedtheimer if possible. The roads are dangerous in houston for bikes.

  • @Derek: “Their study showed Westheimer gets about the same amount of traffic as Alabama, which is two lanes.”
    .
    Thanks for the notes. Any chance you know if this is based on specific time periods or overall weekly averages? It certainly feels that any time outside of rush hour traffic (notably weekends/evenings) Westheimer is doing the heavy lifting for the area.

  • Why can’t they just make westheimer 1 way and west Alabama 1 way going the other direction. It would make it more walkable and bike friendly

  • Looks amazing!

    Here is my major critique:

    1. Where are the driveway cuts!

  • Dedicated, separated bicycle lane, please!!!

  • Agree, looks like a reasonable plan given the constraints of the narrow ROW. It always struck me as odd that effectively it was 4 lanes west of Dunlavy and then the outside lane basically ran into on-street parking.

  • theres 2 lanes now. they just put a stripe down the middle and thought it was wider.

  • Everyone loves the plan. The same everyone will be pissed when all the businesses that make lower Westheimer special go out of business when all the street parking disappears.

    Bernard

  • This looks great, but leaves me curious for the plans for W. Alabama – adding bike lanes will almost certainly result in it being reduced to two lanes and its hard to see room for dedicated left turn lanes. I also hope construction on Westheimer is done before they start on W. Alabama.

  • I see no one has commented on the conversion of Waughcrest, Mt. Vernon, and Yoakum to one-way streets.

  • Having lived in this area for years, in my opinion,this plan for Westheimer Blvd. Is very at best wierd. Upon watching the video, seems like the Intersections are getting a “makeover ” without the make up.The other main area seems to be unattended unless it in pink
    Sorry, for me Westheimer Blvd is the conduit for people especially visitors to get around Houston . It is a street or, “comfort zone” that people know. Please improve but don’t fuck it up.

  • Here’s a suggestion for everyone here making a suggestion: Go here: https://www.tfaforms.com/4614065 and make your comments where the city will actually read them.

  • They should eliminate left turns similar to main street. The exception being at dedicated left turn lanes at the traffic lights. This way one guy turning left on a small street doesnt hold up everyone behind him.

  • “Fairview is designated as a bike route”
    Yikes! If they want bikes on Fairview they need to make it navigable by bike.
    .
    “It’s as though they’re trying to force Montrose/Westheimer into a walkable area, when it’s full of strip centers and parking lots.”
    Montrose has been walkable for decades, at least. I lived there in the 1980s and walked everywhere. It isn’t difficult to walk across parking lots or along strip centers.

  • I think on street parking is more important than bike lanes on Westheimer. Not because the area needs more parking (it doesn’t) but because pedestrians badly need the protection from speeding traffic that a wall of parked cars will provide. Overall I think the plan is excellent and is pretty much exactly what is called for.

  • It’s time! Pedestrian friendly. Love it!!!

  • Did I catch the golden arcs @ 2:23 ?

    There’s a McDowell’s in Houston?!?!

  • As envisioned that is a disastrous layout. Lanes not wide enough,way too much sidewalk. Yes,people walk in the Montrose, but not that many people walk along Westheimer. And those dual bus/automobile lanes will cause numerous collisions (examples galore: METRO rail cars killing pedestrians /multiple collisions along the routes). This plan need some serious tweaking by the neighborhood stakeholders-NOT the bureaucrats @ the COH ..Because they’ll screw it up,as usual. You know: the patriarchal “we know what’s best for you” mentality / operating model. And turns out they DON’T know diddly ..@John Anderson : re-your idea of a dedicated bike lane down Westheimer. NO NO NO. That’ll put cyclists in further harms way and make them increased targets for pissed off drivers. Combine the bike paths with the sidewalks. As an avid cyclist I take back& side streets to purposely stay off of and away from major artery streets(see the ghost bikes all around town). I nearly was hit / injured by an AIRBORNE car in front of Thairapy Salon @1721 Waugh Dr. 77006 in May 2016 @ approximately 9:45am on a lovely Friday am.. The driver was intoxicated on who knows what. I called 911 and reported his dangerous driving to HPD!!!

  • @HappyGoLucky, do you ever go near Westheimer, especially on a Saturday afternoon? The sidewalks are crawling with pedestrians. TONS of people walk on Westheimer, probably more than any other street outside of downtown.