Crews are finishing work on a 2.25-mile “side path” that will improve connections to the Terry Hershey Trail, while improving roadway conditions that connect the Walnut Bend neighborhood to the West Sam Houston Tollway frontage road.
This improvement was first identified in Westchase District’s 2016 Ped/Bike plan that identified pedestrian and bicycling needs and prioritized improvements. “This project quickly rose to the top of the priority list because of the heavy bicycle and pedestrian traffic in this corridor,” said Irma Sanchez, Westchase District vice president of projects.
The improvements include the construction of 8-foot wide, continuous sidewalks along the west side of CityWest Blvd between Westheimer and Briar Forest. The signalized intersection at Briar Forest and CityWest Blvd allows pedestrians and cyclists to connect to the north side of Briar Forest where the path continues until it reaches Walnut Bend Lane.
There, the path will turn north and follow the existing City of Houston on-street bike route on Blue Willow Drive until reaching Riverview. At Riverview, the route will turn east onto Deerwood. The sidewalk on the north side of Deerwood has been reconstructed and widened to accommodate pedestrian traffic. And a dedicated two-way bike lane, separated from vehicle traffic, has been installed. All of this connects to a new, widened sidewalk that runs adjacent to the West Sam Houston Tollway frontage road until it connects to the existing pedestrian bridge that leads to the Terry Hershey Trail.
“Not only does this route improve the connectivity between Westheimer and the Terry Hershey Trail, but it also improves the sidewalks along Briar Forest Drive. Thousands of students who walk to Walnut Bend Elementary and Paul Revere Middle Schools will benefit from the pedestrian improvements,” said Sanchez.
The project included a complete rebuild of Deerwood Drive as well. “This street always ponded during any heavy rain,” noted Sanchez. “We were able to tag onto the ped/bike project and rebuild a heavily- traveled street. The $1.5 million project was paid for by Westchase District’s 380 Area Agreement with the City of Houston which allows Westchase District to recoup taxpayer money and use it to build approved infrastructure projects within the 380 boundaries.
Elmide/Woodchase Trail to be finished by summer
Similar back-of-curb improvements are underway along the east side of Elmside Drive and Woodchase Drive, between Westhiemer Road and Westpark Drive. This 1.25-mile path is being upgraded with wider, continuous sidewalks and improved landscaping, including the planting of additional shade trees.
“This route runs adjacent to approximately 20 apartment communities representing thousands of residents – many of whom take advantage of public transportation to get to their jobs and schools,” said Sanchez. “These enhanced sidewalks will really make a difference to them.”
Seat walls, an exercise station and bike racks will further enhance the experience. This path will also connect pedestrians and cyclists to Woodchase Park when it opens this winter.