Your Chance To Talk About Lower Westheimer Before The Redo Plans Get Drawn Up

YOUR CHANCE TO TALK ABOUT LOWER WESTHEIMER BEFORE THE REDO PLANS GET DRAWN UP Map of Lower Westheimer Study AreaA meeting is set for 6pm Monday for anyone with opinions about what the Montrose section of Westheimer Rd. should or shouldn’t look like, as the ReBuild Houston folks turns an eye toward the corridor. Traffic consultant Geoff Carleton tells Dug Begley that bike infrastructure is low on the project wishlist, as bike lanes are already planned for W. Alabama. Carleton says that widening the road, which Metro’s larger buses can’t currently fit down, will be a hard enough sell already, adding that current priorities are for Westheimer to be both “walkable and transit-friendly.” A list of links to previous studies of the area’s transit situation is included on the city’s meeting info page. [Houston Chronicle] Image of Lower Westheimer study area: City of Houston

26 Comment

  • Get rid of the delusion that Lower Westheimer is a two lane street, widen the sidewalks a foot or two, parallel parking and bus stops in the outer “lane”, get rid of parking minimums along the corridor with meters and residential permits, let new buildings come up to the sidewalks.

    Doesn’t actually remove any vehicle throughput.

    Reinforces what people do like about the area and allows the urban form to be rebuilt.

  • I propose a Kramer-inspired “comfort cruise” reconfiguration – no one follows the ****ing lines anyway.

  • I think everybody’s plan will involve more traffic overflow into the surrounding neighborhoods (i agree with reducing it down to one lane only starting at Woodhead). As such, ensuring meters and residential parking permits are kept out of the area is my biggest concern. It’s the single reason I wrote off bothering to go anywhere east of Montrose.

  • Make Westheimer one way Eastbound and route two-way traffic down to a fairly-easy-to-widen Fairview. Woodhead @ Dunvale is in desperate need of a re-working as well.

  • No residential parking permits. Nearly all homes and apartments in the area have their own off street parking. If you want to live in a densifying urban area and don’t want parking lots everywhere, accept that business parking will overflow into residential areas.

  • That’s the problem I keep running into I would love to see more traffic diverted away from westheimer to create angled parking like in front of Catbirds and as being greatly expanded along the bayou all up and down it, but all other neighboring streets are already at capacity. W. Alabama will still be trash once re-done and Fairview is a residential street with numerous safety issues already in play. It’s possible to widen it, but not without adding in a bunch of 4-way stops that would negate the value of diverting traffic towards it.
    The entire area is already so developed and built-out that it’s really hard to envision the city doing anything that can truly add further value along Westheimer that won’t severely impact mobility or devalue a neighboring area. As such, probably best to just remove the parking minimums (a perennial swamplot fave) and focus on growing out the commercial corridor into the surrounding neighborhoods rather than trying to keep it contained along Westheimer.

  • The CIty & Metro already have “ideas” on how they want Westheimer redone.. Citizens input will not necessarily be included in those plans. Even though those entities are using our FRICKING tax $$$$.

  • Leave lower Westheimer alone. The area is a ghost of what it once was. Bring back the hookers and get rid of the mattress stores. Or put the hookers in the mattress stores. The area used to be packed with tourists. We stopped doing what was working. We need to fill it up again with sexually oriented businesses.

  • Get rid of the 2′ wasteland of grass and weeds between the sidewalk and curb to either widen the sidewalks or slightly widen the street to accomodate the buses. Reducing the lanes to one in each direction is lovely in theory but it is already a complete clusterf— between Woodhead and Mandell. Eliminate the street parking in that stretch, buy the vacant lot at Westheimer and Kuester and build a city owned parking garage. Also eliminate the small stretch of Ridgewood Street between California and Westheimer to expand the existing pocket park. The re-do all the traffic signals to allow protected left turns from Shepherd to San Jacinto–it really isn’t that hard to time the signals and publish/sign it so the drivers know the lights will be green at a 25 MPH pace. The do the drainage like the downtown streets thast have drainage grates which augmment the storm sewer inlets to reduce the pavement failure in the right hand lanes. This is the only thoroughfare that cuts through the heart of this part of town and is heavily travelled. If you object to retaining four lanes, the upgrade Fairview to handle the excess traffic.

  • Remove the parking along Westheimer past Woodhead.

  • ^^^ Ha… Thank you @ Happy Go Lucky : As someone involved in Urbanism and Architecture and has lived near the Taft/Westheimer intersection for over a quarter of a Century, you are right. METRO and the City already know what they are gonna do and couldn’t give a rats ass about our input.

    I tried to comment on the plans for West Alabama when they came out awhile back and even downloaded the CIP presentation materials. Know what I got back? Crickets… This is all just pandering, so they can say they held their ‘public’ forum for input. I mean have Y’all seen this crap?! They are proposing a Round-About behind Haymerchant at the intersection of California and Yupon… Say what?! We are not Barcelona, Madrid or Mexico City and nor can anybody figure the one out at Westscott and Washington… Why butcher this already pedestrian zone and put more traffic onto Studewood?

    CRAZY I tell ya! But then again this is the same corrupt City that is letting people in Myerland and Greenspoint drown because of catering to developers. Should be fun to watch us morph into another broken Detroit. Man I miss the old lower Westheimer already, and that one kinda even sucked…

  • I agree with the others that these meetings are dog and pony shows just designed to satisfy the open meetings act. City staff could give a shit about anybody’s suggestions. I attended the West Alabama as well as the Shepherd reconstruction meeting several years back and the Shepherd re-do is a joke. Nothing changed except the roadway is no concrete instead of asphalt. No turn lanes added , no signal upgrades to accommodate left turns and certainly no pedestrian amenities. Everything here is done on the cheap and shoddy with no long-term thinking. What is even more absurd is that West Alabama takes priority over West timer which is arguably the most important East West Route in this side of the city .

  • Widen Westheimer to its north side between Woodhead and Mulberry Street and make it a proper four lanes wide. At the intersection with Mulberry, acquire the parcel containing the Texas Hookah Bar and Biscuit Home, create a split (or traffic circle, whatever is in vogue), and route westbound traffic along Westheimer and eastbound traffic along Hawthorne Street. Hawthorne already has a signal at Montrose and an interconnection into Midtown via Holman Street. Holman is already eastbound at the spur, has a LRT crossing, and transits all the way across Midtown. Its kind of ready-made for that setup; also none of the other nearby streets (i.e. California/Avondale or Lovett) are so continuous and have easy interconnects to the rest of the grid.
    Its very important to recognize that Houston only really gets one shot at tying this part of the grid together. If this opportunity gets blown, its only going to shift more traffic to parallel thoroughfares as well as onto streets with a more residential character. That should not be viewed as a desirable outcome under any set of circumstances.

  • Montrose is in desperate need of a hotel, boutique preferred for the area.

    La Colombe d’Or offers only five rooms and that’s the only hotel in that area.

  • I’m sure the residents along Hawthorne and the owners of the Hookah Bar and the Biscuit and every restaurant and retail space east of Mulberry on Westheimer are going to get right behind that idea, Niche. That will never happen.
    Westheimer needs to be widened to a full four lanes and the pedestrian realm needs to be addressed similarly to Bagby from Gray to Elgin. That seems to work well and it looks beautiful and I see people using the sidewalks all the time.

  • @TheNiche, yeah, let’s just route major traffic through people’s residential neighborhoods. Hey, where’s Cody? This is his turf.

  • I recommend AGAINST removal of on-street parking. It is important to serve sidewalk-fronting businesses (the area isn’t dense enough or have enough public transit service to bring sufficient customers via other modes), and it provides a buffer for pedestrians. Houston’s urban streets need MORE on-street parking, not less.
    Niche’s suggestions for better tying the grid together are interesting and should be considered. That said, under no circumstances should anyone get the impression that Westheimer will (or should even try) to become a high-speed high-capacity thoroughfare through Montrose (excluding continued improvements to bus service). Doing that will lose the economic development potential of the street as an urban commercial corridor.

  • I like the idea of abandoning Ridgewood St. between Westhiemer and California and expanding the pocket park.

    Get rid of the parking minimums in this area as well. Make it a complete street….bike lanes, more room for buses, etc.

    Also, make Westheimer a one way street and funnel vehicles on to Fairview. Fairview is a residential street, especailly between Dunlavy and Shepherd.

    If the two feet of grass is removed between the sidewalk and the curb there needs to be a bike lane or parking so that peds are protected from vehicles.

    Great idea @JT about the drainage! That’d be great if it was like the downtown streets (drainage grates which augmment the storm sewer inlets to reduce the pavement failure in the right hand lanes).

  • @WheresAGuestToStay: See the Morty Rich Hostel. Swamplot had a link to a story about a new hostel opening in midtown.

  • @ GoogleMaster: Part of Hawthorne is definitely a residential street. The part between Mulberry and just past Montrose is very mixed. The part east of there has a fair bit of multifamily housing; and in my experience (which is heavily weighted toward multifamily), traffic and visibility is a very strong net benefit. Multifamily investors along Hawthorne (one of whom I’ve done business with) should be pleased. Actually, I’d expect that the commercial property owners along Westheimer would probably suffer the most. Free-flowing one-way streets tend not to be as conducive to retail businesses as congested two-way streets.
    Regarding Fairview, that is a much more residential street. Interconnects to the rest of the grid are less fluid. It could be upgraded. That would be a good idea. There are lots of streets that are good candidates for that sort of thing. Taft and Stanford and Mandell are also in the study area. These are other good examples.

  • I think it is great that many Swamplot readers have given thought to ‘re-imagining’ (to use Metro’s word) Westheimer.
    But, I have to agree with Happy Go Lucky’s comment that all of this ‘public input’ is just a dog-and-pony show so we’re all wasting our breath on suggesting stuff to the City and Metro who have tin ears. What we’ll actually get is guaranteed to please no one and cost too much public money.
    Sorry to sound so cynical but I’ve lived inside the Loop for nearly 25 years and no good deed goes unpunished in this town.

  • eff it, I’ll go there… Light rail! Two way light rail, from Main to the Galleria and beyond! No buses. Single lane car traffic with bike lanes. There’s what, like 60′ to play with from sidewalk to sidewalk? I bet it’ll fit ;). I’d B-Cycle the sh*t out of that.

  • Nah, Richmond really is the most appropriate location for light rail. The possible interconnections at both Main Street and Post Oak Blvd. would be extremely difficult. By contrast, land has already been acquired and set aside for the Wheeler TC interconnect, the interconnect from Westpark under the I-69/610 interchange to Post Oak Blvd., and along the former railroad tracks along Westpark. Also, traffic congestion along Westheimer in the vicinity of 610 is so severe that any interruption would cause vastly more congestion than transit could possibly alleviate. A Richmond/Westpark route also provides connectivity to Greenway Plaza. LRT that doesn’t connect major employment centers is not very useful and a stupendous waste of resources. (This is ignoring for the moment that METRO doesn’t have the financial capacity to undertake the project whether it wants to do it or not.)

  • Why can’t it just be converted to 3 lines–one lane in each direction and turn lane in the middle?

  • Bring back hand job fridays!

  • I vote for a clothing optional slip and slide right down the middle of Westheimer