Median improvements underway to streamline, beautify Wilcrest Drive north of Westheimer
Westchase District motorists who use Wilcrest Drive will soon enjoy many new improvements under construction along the roadway. More than 80,000 vehicles travel through the intersection of Wilcrest at Westheimer Road every day and the many possible turning movements that occur immediately north of the intersection can slow traffic and cause considerable congestion.
“On Wilcrest just north of Westheimer, there are several misaligned driveways in close proximity to one another. That, coupled with the high traffic counts, creates a challenging traffic management situation,” said Irma Sanchez, Westchase District’s vice president of projects. “Working with the City of Houston, we have come up with a solution to address those traffic slowdowns without impeding access to any of the nearby businesses,” she added.
The six median openings on Wilcrest immediately north of Westheimer are being rebuilt to accommodate better traffic flow. Most significantly, the Wilcrest left-turn lanes at Westheimer will be extended to allow for more cars to enter the turning lanes.
The first median north of Westheimer will feature a channelized turning bay to accommodate south-bound motorists turning left into the adjacent shopping center. The other five median openings on Wilcrest will be rebuilt to accommodate u-turns and left turns. These openings will better align with existing driveway openings and will result in smoother, safer traffic to and from the businesses on Wilcrest.
Altogether, 16 medians on Wilcrest between Westheimer and Lakeside Place will receive enhanced landscaping. The esplanades will feature custom green concrete pavers similar to those installed elsewhere throughout the District, plus river rocks and moss boulders. The esplanades will feature Mexican Sycamore trees, plus Drift Roses, Asian Jasmine, Foxtail Fern, Red Yucca, Variegated Flax Lily and Dwarf Bottlebrush.
As part of the Wilcrest improvements, workers are installing special paving in the medians at the intersection of Wilcrest and Westheimer to deter pedestrian traffic in the roadway. Medium-sized rocks and boulders are affixed to the interior of the medians making it difficult to stand or walk on them. “When pedestrians linger on the medians, it creates a public safety hazard for them as well as for motorists,” said Don McKinney, Westchase District’s public safety director. “It’s a subtle and aesthetically pleasing way of directing people to move along and simply cross at the intersection.” McKinney said the District plans to install additional special paving at intersections at Westheimer and the Beltway and Westheimer and Gessner.
Westchase / city / neighborhood partnership
This is the first project outside the Westchase District boundaries to be completed under the District’s 380 Area Agreement with the City of Houston. “Through the 380 funds, we’re able to extend the superior mobility and beauty the District is known for into the adjacent area to the north,” said Sanchez. “That’s something that has been enthusiastically embraced by the neighborhood and business owners alike.”
When completed, the City will assume responsibility for the irrigation of the esplanades and ongoing maintenance will be funded through several private businesses and neighborhood associations, including Cornerstone Automotive, Lakeside Estates Townhomes, Lakeside Improvement Association, Michael Stevens Interests, Uncle Bob’s Storage, Westside Tennis Club and Mitterhoffer at Wilcrest.
The project is expected to be completed in early 2018. “Driving on Wilcrest is a temporary hassle for now, but I think people really will be pleased once the work is complete,” said Sanchez. “Wilcrest is going to flow better and will look great.”