The Back and Forth on Dunlavy St.

THE BACK AND FORTH ON DUNLAVY ST. Dunlavy St. at Westheimer Rd., Lower Westheimer, Montrose, HoustonBack in May some Montrose urbanists rejoiced at a report that city traffic planners were hoping to constrict Dunlavy St. from 4 lanes to 2. However, as part of this year’s annual Major Thoroughfare and Freeway Plan, the city’s planning commission advised widening the Dunlavy corridor’s right-of-way 10 feet in certain areas. In an e-blast to her constituents, city council’s Ellen Cohen cited a lack of public input on the widening proposal and its potential negative impact on homeowners as key factors in shaping her “grave concerns” over the prospect of a fattened corridor, so that proposal has been tabled until next year’s review. [Houston Chronicle; Ellen Cohen] Photo: Raj Mankad /OffCite

28 Comment

  • I would be happy if they got rid of left turns at Dunlay and Westheimer.

  • Wouldn’t 2 lanes and a bike lane make more sense for this part of town? And I mean a bike lane that is more than 18 inches wide and doesn’t have cars parked in it.

  • Dunlavy Street is one of the most terrifying in the area if you’re at the disadvantage of not being in a vehicle. My family would certainly rejoice if the volume of speeding and careless vehicles were reduced through there.

  • a 4-lane dunlavy still only means 2 lanes of moving traffic. as we’re only building up from here on I see no issues with the city grabbing the additional ROW for future purposes or at least expanding the current bike lane from Dallas down to Westheimer.
    don’t agree with the no left turn lanes though. dunlavy is not a major thoroughfare or commercial road like shepherd is and shouldn’t be restricted as such. the turns can hold up traffic, but it’s only a cause for concern during a very small rush hour window and there’s multiple other westheimer intersections all within a 100yds of this one for alleviating such issues.

  • Hey Ellen, how about helping out a lot more homeowners in the area! There are streets near Dunlavy over 50 years old in terrible condition between Richmond and West Alabama that are full of potholes and ruts, yet the city is repaving streets across the freeway in South Hampton that are did not have potholes and ruts and are in much better condition….. How about helping us out Ellen???? Examples of streets that are in deplorable condition are Driscoll, W Main, Hazard, McDuffie, Colquitt.

  • Either a bike lane or dedicated street parking + wider sidewalks would be fine. Personally I’d go the street parking/wider sidewalks route and focus more on pedestrians–hopefully we’d get more restaurants with sidewalk dining over time, there are already a few along that route and pedestrian improvements could only help encourage it.
    Just my thoughts on that stretch.

  • I drive/ride on Dunlavy all the time and agree with Limestone, kill the left turn on Westheimer. Second, expand the no parking zones leading up to and away from stop signs between Gray and Westheimer. You end up with a single file line at each stop when you could go two abreast and merge back down past the sign.

    Bike lanes would be nice as would a painted insight this line for parking. Going wider seems like going too far, at least try some of the other paint only options first.

  • Seems like they could make a ton of traffic improvements without widening. Restrict left-turns at major intersections, restrict parking between inbound/outbound hours (or altogether IMO), traffic lights versus 4-way stops, etc. In fact, with parking out one could make it three-lanes wide; the center a turn-lane, and the outer lanes wide enough to include a bike lane. From Richmond to Allen and that would be a huge help!

  • The last thing Montrose needs is a wider road for the city to neglect. Its the most walkable neighborhood in town, and putting a 5 lane barrier accross the middle of it will hurt that. The current traffic on Dunlavy is shitty because of Shepherd construction, but that too will pass.

    A designated bike lane would be useless unless they can connect it to the Buffalo Bayou park. Theres enough people frogger-ing across Allen Parkway as it is.

  • The “controversial” widening of Dunlavy consisted of about FOUR BLOCKS between US59 and Richmond Ave. There is a large apartment complex there that need additional access … I guess Councilwoman Ellen Cohen was worried her friends south of US59 would get upset about extra traffic that might arise.

    Politics raises it’s ugly head over progress and safety yet again

  • Everyone on the Next Door Web Chain is in a tizzy over this. Let’s be serious for a minute and even if the planning dept recommends a 10′ wider right of way does anyone think COH will EVER spend the money to
    widen the street? Proof: here we are rebuilding both Westheimer and Shepherd in the same general area
    in the middle of booming construction and increased density and the ROW is not being widened to provide sorely needed left turn lanes. And what the Dunlavy/Westheimer intersection needs are upgraded traffic signals
    with actual left turn signals and some restrictions about parking so close to the corners.

  • That intersection can be the worst. The city either needs to forbid all left turns or change the lights so that only one side of the intersection can go at a time. This would solve the left turn problem and likely make it safer for pedestrians. I also agree that the city needs to do better about enforcing parking restrictions near the intersection. I wonder how many people have hit parked cars near that intersection. It definitely shouldn’t be widened, though. That is one of the few areas of Houston that is walkable, and there would be a neighborhood revolt if the city tried to widen it.

    And MarkH – AMEN to your comment re the potholes. I have never understood how the city could allow the streets of its most popular neighborhood for dining and nightlife to rot like that.

  • WR – you are incorrect on what ROW was proposed to be changed. The Planning Commission voted to increase the ROW from 60′ to 70′ in three segments of Dunlavy: from Allen Parkway to West Gray; from West Gray to Westheimer; and from Westheimer to Richmond. The portion you mention, from Richmond to US-59 was to remain a 60′ ROW.

    Additionally, the issue with the Planning Commission’s recommendation was not necessarily the recommendation itself. It was the fact that the Planning Department’s recommendation did not include increasing the ROW, so there was never a period of public comment on the proposal. The Planning Commission, at the final vote, rejected the 60′ ROW and instead countered with a 70′ ROW. Therefore, the public never had an opportunity to comment on the issue.

  • As Montrose densifies, more of these streets ought to become one-way, just like much of Midtown already is.

  • LJ, I got my information directly from the posted map at the CoH’s planning website.

  • @Chris M and others: Removing street parking would be a bad idea. Street parking is important to protect pedestrians on the sidewalk from traffic on the street (unless you like getting splashed by mud puddles and pelted with gravel when buses go by). Dunlavy at Westheimer is one of the highest pedestrian traffic areas outside of downtown and that needs to be nurtured, not discouraged.
    @Angostura: One-way streets are also a bad idea. They make the city more difficult to navigate and the supposed traffic improvements have not been substantiated in practice due to all the extra circling they cause to drivers. They’re also bad for pedestrian safety because they tend to reduce driver awareness and increase average speeds.

  • Anon, I personally like riding in bike lanes where cars are parked, and experiencing the thrill of pure fright at the possibility of a driver door opening, sending me flying like a free-bird across the Montrose skies. But, that’s just me.

  • WR – to see the Planning Commission recommendation, you have to go to the minutes from August 14. Scroll down to G-3, to Dunlavy and you will see what they recommended:
    I don’t see a map that reflects the amendments that the City Council is voting on this week.

  • Traffic on Dunlavy has gotten very bad, and yes, people turning left onto Westheimer often hold up traffic for an entire light cycle (you can’t get around them because of cars parked almost all the way to the intersection). It will only get worse when that complex opens up at Dunlavy and Alabama. Unfortunately, Dunlavy is on its way to becoming a major north/south artery. Woodhead has speed bumps and Hazard doesn’t go all the way through. I can remember when it was a nice, quiet residential street with open ditches for drainage!

  • I agree that street parking should be eliminated but just for within a block of Westheimer. That would allow two lanes through the signal. Adding a left arrow would help immensely both there and at West Alabama. It probably is time to reconsider the reversible lane on West Alabama too because that shts dangerous. I have been hit once and had numerous close calls.

  • @charlie – every Thursday night I have multiple near death experiences headed westbound on Alabama. I seriously think less than 10% of the driving public understands how that reverse lane is supposed to work.

  • @superdave, I completely agree. I don’t know how hard it is to understand red “x’s” and no left turn arrows but I think there are a few issues. The first is that there just aren’t that many of these around. Next is that we have a lot of drivers who just don’t care what the signs say. Finally, I think we have a fair number of drivers who didn’t learn to drive in the US and just don’t understand the concept. I have seen every type of stupidity on West Alabama; right and left turns from the right or left lane when the center lane is going in the same direction (the cause of my accident and the last one that I barely avoided) AND when it is a turn lane, as well as people using the center lane to turn when it is a traffic lane which was the cause of a fairly serious accident that I witnessed recently.

  • stop blaming drivers for issues on the alabama reversible lane. it was an ignorant idea to start with that only made sense when 59 was actually under construction. the city traffic engineers and your elected officials should take full blame for the stupidity that has continued on for a decade now. no matter how simple the concept may be, it disregards common sense and standard driving patterns on the road and there’s still never been sufficient signage or change to it to ensure no safety issues. 10yrs of ignorance doesn’t mean drivers are dumb or getting dumber, it means the city has failed to prioritize your safety and won’t care until someone gets killed over it (or enough do to make it pop up on their priority list).

  • @JLJ — Thank you for the link to the minutes. I found one thing quite confusing. The recommendations were for converting three sections of Dunlavy from a four-lane road to something else. I have lived in Montrose since I got out of college almost 30 years ago, and I don’t ever remember Dunlavy having four lanes. It hasn’t even always had a center stripe, but now that it’s been restriped recently, it’s striped for two driving lanes, with the rest presumably for parking and bicycles.

    @Charlie — I drive back and forth to and from work on W. Alabama every day, and when I’m using the reversible lane, I have my horn finger poised and my foot ready to slam on the brakes. It’s the worst in the evening. In the 1.5 miles between the Spur and S. Shepherd, I regularly see cars in my lane at 2 or 3 intersections. Montrose is the worst, followed by Yoakum (because the traffic is backed up from Montrose and people are desperate to get off W. Alabama and go north), Stanford (because people missed that they could actually turn onto Roseland), and Hazard, where people block two lanes, one inbound and one outbound, while they wait to cross.

    I drive as if everyone else on the road is a drunken, incompetent, uninsured, texting idiot and so far I haven’t actually been hit on W. Alabama, although I’ve come close. I was in the center inbound lane at Dunlavy before 9am and as I approached the just-turned-green light to go forward through it, the guy to my right in the right inbound lane decided to turn left in front of me. 1) NO LEFT TURN means NO! LEFT! TURN! 2) Left turn from the right lane WTF?! 3) Left turn from a lane when someone else is in the lane to your left, double WTF?!

  • @joel, I think it is completely reasonable to blame drivers who are unable to follow basic instructions. I am not surprised that they can’t, given the lack of basic driving skills that I see every day in just about any situation other than driving forward on a straight flat road; well, even then only when they can keep their eyes off their cellphones.

  • as a proud Wendy’s owner, i approve of this project, but only if they cut down numerous trees in the middle of the night to get the additional ROW.

  • @googlemaster, you just described my accident; except that mine was inbound at Montrose. The one I narrowly avoided was the same scenario except outboud at Graustark. In that case I felt like I was in a movie. I was able to get my car turned into a lefthand skid which took me onto Graustark just in front of the errant turner (cellphone, completely clueless that she had done anything wrong) and thankfully without getting t-boned by the oncoming driver who was able to stop. It was like life slowed down to a few frames a second. I could see the oh crap look on the oncoming drivers face and the I didn’t do anything wrong imbecilic content on the offending SUV drivers face.

  • Dunlavy is already a traffic terror, particularly at Westheimer. I was home the day the FIre Engines crashed and came out to screams of the injured – and no power – and that is just a sampling of the people who run the red light and hold traffic up while they try and turn left.
    I would vote for no left turns at all at Dunlavy / Westheimer, One could also smooth traffic by not having parking before 9 a.m. or after 3, for instance. the entire world does not have to be devoted to the car!