Flood fighting

Westheimer to be cut down to two lanes for construction as it becomes more pedestrian friendly

Westheimer to be cut down to two lanes for construction as it becomes more pedestrian friendly

Westheimer_Shepherd_intersection_construction_Upper Kirby
The first phase of construction will take place along Westheimer between Shepherd Drive and Kirby Drive. Bids will be taken in December, and work is expected to begin in Jan. 2013. Photo by Whitney Radley

Good news for Upper Kirby residents: The portion of Westheimer Road between Shepherd Drive and Buffalo Speedway is due to receive a much-needed re-paving as part of the last phase of drainage work in the area. 

Travis Younkin, deputy director of the Upper Kirby District, tells CultureMap that Richmond and its environs has been prone to "perpetual flooding," a problem that has been mitigated by drainage projects along Kirby from Westheimer to Richmond (completed in 2008) and from Richmond to Highway 59 (completed in 2010).

 Younkin says that area pedestrians will be able to see a drastic improvement in its walkability. 

The district worked with METRO on a reimbursement agreement for construction on Richmond, so that underground improvements will not have to be re-implemented when (or if) the transit authority sets a timeline for the University light rail line along that thoroughfare. Substantial completion for road construction is expected to be met before the holidays. 

That's just in time for the Westheimer improvements, which are anticipated to begin in Jan. 2013. Younkin warns that the work — which entails burying utilities and telecommunication lines — will cut the traffic down to two lanes between Shepherd and Kirby first, then Kirby to Buffalo Speedway in the second phase.

Younkin says that area pedestrians will be able to see a drastic improvement in the street's walkability: Widened sidewalks without utility poles blocking the way, ADA-approved ramps, pedestrian lighting, benches, trash receptacles and street trees.  

"There will be lots of the same elements of Kirby, but with different features . . .  that relate to the context of how the street is used," he explains. 

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