Major Streetscape Projects Shaping Up

Transit stops are just one improvement to the pedestrian experience

Contractors working on the complete rebuild of Walnut Bend Lane are tackling the punch list now as they finish up this $20 million project. While a lot of that work is unseen by the casual motorist or pedestrian, the installation of the custom bus shelters and trees along the roadway added a wow factor that was previously missing from the project.

The 11 transit stops on Walnut Bend all have shelters made of aluminum and shatter resistant glass. The shelters are equipped with LED lighting and feature seat blocks made of a concrete blend with a glossy finish. Special paving, trash cans and upgraded signage complete the installation. “These new shelters are the standard for Westchase District,” said Westchase District’s Vice President of Projects Irma Sanchez. “They’re also being installed on Westheimer.

Planting with a purpose: The trees being planted along Walnut Bend Lane will provide nice canopy for pedestrians as they mature.

A first-of-its-kind agreement with METRO allowed Westchase District to install the new custom bus shelters. “METRO is reimbursing us $289,000 for transit stop improvements,” said Sanchez. “That amount represents the money that would have been spent by METRO to upgrade those transit stops. We used that money toward the cost of the upgraded shelters.”

“We have a long-time relationship with METRO and they’ve been great to work with,” said Sanchez. The District has a similar agreement with METRO for the maintenance of transit stops located within the District’s boundaries. “We’re responsible for the maintenance of all 143 transit stops in the District. Our crews remove trash and keep the locations clean. In turn, the District is reimbursed by METRO for the amount they would have spent to maintain the stops,” added Sanchez.

Dutch intersection
One of the unique features that has been built into the Walnut Bend project is a Dutch Intersection. It’s a protected intersection in which cyclists and pedestrians are separated from vehicle traffic. A Dutch intersection has been installed at the intersection of Walnut Bend and Meadowglen Lanes. “This area has a lot of pedestrian traffic,” said Sanchez. “We’re also trying to improve roadway conditions for cyclists as we make these improvements and the Dutch intersection is a great example of that.”

Other pedestrian improvements along Walnut Bend include wider sidewalks and improved lighting. “We’ve installed pedestrian lighting along both Walnut Bend and Westheimer,” said Sanchez. “There are a lot of residents who live in apartment communities along Walnut Bend and, of course, Westheimer sees a lot of retail traffic. Pedestrians and motorists alike will enjoy these improvements as soon as the lighting is powered up.”

Up next: tree planting
Crews have been busy recently installing dozens of trees along Walnut Bend Lane. “Landscaping is the last part of this project,” said Sanchez. “We’re installing Mexican Sycamores, Live Oaks and Chinquapin Oaks along the roadway. These varieties have fared well elsewhere in the District and we think they’ll really add a nice texture to the streetscape and increase the shade canopy.”

Later this year, Westchase District will replant the medians along Westheimer where High Rise Live Oaks were planted before they were moved to Woodchase Park.

“It’s been a crazy couple of years in Westchase District while these multi-million dollars projects have been underway,” said Sanchez. “Our residents and property owners have been so understanding with the delays, the lane closures and the construction mess. But it’s all coming to an end soon and I’m confident we’ll all enjoy the result.”

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