Here is a look at improvement projects in the Westchase District

HOUSTON – You may have noticed a lot of roadwork by the West Beltway and Westpark Tollway in the Westchase District. Most of this construction kicked off in 2019 with the new reconstruction of Walnut Bend and then the work came on Westheimer, which carries METRO’s busiest local bus route. Most recently, a small but crucial bike connection was finished.

What used to be a narrow busted sidewalk is now replaced with a nice smooth path leading to a properly protected bike lane from the West Beltway southbound feeder into Deerwood westbound, with the ability to connect riders to Terry Hershey Park. Irma Sanchez, the vice president of projects with the Westchase District Project division, took KPRC 2′s Anavid Reyes on a ride to experience the bike lane first-hand.

“So here, we have the dividers that show, ‘Hey cars, you stay on this part of the road and cyclists. You have your own lane and actually.’ The bike lane is divided for two-way traffic, so if you have two cyclists traveling in opposite directions they’re protected,” Sanchez said.

Construction continues on Walnut Bend, stretching from Westheimer to Westpark. Walnut Bend simply wasn’t designed to carry the amount of pedestrian, cyclist, transit, and vehicular traffic it sees today.

“We’re reconstructing it entirely. All stormwater, drainage, utilities, to meet standards and demands of today, you know this road was reconstructed in the early 70′s, 80′s,” Sanchez said.

Once this work is done, Walnut Bend will have wider sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, dedicated continuous bike lanes on both sides, bike racks, and top-notch bus shelters.

“That roadway crosses three major METRO routes, on Westpark, Richmond, and on Westheimer,” Sanchez said.

METRO is planning on making Westheimer a future BRT corridor, which is different than a normal bus route, as it provides a faster service because traffic lights actually communicate with the bus, to change in favor of the route.

The Westchase District is upgrading the curbs to nine inches in height, which means buses won’t have to kneel to pick up passengers, improving route times and overall experience. Work on Westheimer will be a three-mile stretch from east of Gessner to Kirkwood.

Drivers can also expect wider sidewalks and better lighting for the finished product. Walnut Bend should be done by this summer, and Westheimer still has another year to go.

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Traffic expert and What’s Driving Houston reporter, proud Latina, lover of animals, food and our beautiful planet.