What started out as a minor error by a subcontractor has turned out to be a pleasant change of plans for Westchase District and the crews who are working on the Westheimer streetscape project. “Originally, we’d planned for the crews to work from east to west on the north side of Westheimer from Westerland to Kirkwood, then turn around and work their way back on the south side of the street,” said Irma Sanchez, Westchase District’s vice president of projects who is overseeing the $16 million project.
“A subcontractor error prompted the lead contractor to reevaluate the project,” added Sanchez. “They decided to complete all the hardscape east of the Beltway before moving crews west of the Beltway. That means the pedestrian improvements east of the Beltway will be complete sooner than expected. Motorists and pedestrians will be able to see a sneak peak of what the final streetscape will look like.
“We’re adding new, wider sidewalks, new pedestrian lighting, custom bus shelters and landscaping that will have a positive impact on pedestrians and the Westheimer retail experience,” said Sanchez. The sidewalks are finished, with just a few gaps where the pedestrian lighting will be added later. Traffic lights on the mast arms will be turned on in December. Installation of the bus shelters will start in mid-January.
The new transit shelters, made of aluminum and glass and equipped with LED lighting, will become the new standard for Westchase District. They will feature seat blocks made of a concrete blend with a glossy finish, special paving, trash cans and upgraded signage. All transit stops on Westheimer are being re-built with 9-inch curbs. “The higher curbs mean that buses don’t have to ‘kneel,’” said Sanchez. “That means boarding times are quicker and lane stoppages are minimized.”
Other featured hardscaping includes: special pavers at the intersections and curb ramps, new Westchase District monument signs and branded retaining walls. “These create what our designers call ‘crescendo moments’ along the streetscape,” said Sanchez. “These improvements will benefit the retail space, better support transit operations and improve connectivity for pedestrians, all while making this major roadway more distinctive and attractive.”
The project is expected to finish in the spring of 2022. The contractors will follow all the hardscape improvements with the installation of attractive new landscaping in key areas.