City to revamp 1.5 mile portion of T.C. Jester Boulevard

Jun. 29, 2015Heights Leader

New pavement, improved intersections and new bicycle lanes are just a few of the improvements Houston officials are hoping to roll out across T.C. Jester Boulevard between Washington Avenue and Timbergrove Lane in the next few years as part of the Rebuild Houston initiative.

Houston City Councilmember Ellen Cohen hosted a public meeting Tuesday evening at the Texas Department of Transportation on Washington Avenue for homeowners living nearby the affected 1.5 mile strip along T.C. Jester Boulevard. Carol Haddock said she hoped the public meeting, which invited questions and comments from residents, would be a change of pace for those who have lived through other major city construction projects in the past.

“We’re working to make sure we understand what all the needs are in the community and we’re incorporating that before decisions are made that don’t necessarily work with the community’s desires,” Haddock said. “I think it’s a step in the right direction […] so we can all get on the same page.”

Haddock said this particular stretch of T.C. Jester Boulevard first came up as one of the early Rebuild Houston need areas, identified mainly for its pavement condition. The priorities for the project include addressing lane widths, adopting better standards for bike lanes in tandem with the city’s long-range bicycle lane planning, better traffic congestion management, and upgraded storm drainage, water and sewer infrastructure.

“We have some tricky intersections,” Haddock said. “We routinely see people turn out on the wrong lanes along T.C. Jester at Washington.”
Officials are looking into imrpoving roadway configurations at T.C. Jester and Washington, T.C. Jester and I-10, T.C. Jester and Larkin and T.C. Jester and West 11th Street. The intersection at Washington would feature added bicycle lanes and left-turn bays at the median opening to the north and the I-10 intersection will balance northbound and southbound lanes.

The Larkin intersection will feature a new left-turn bays on all approaches, according to the proposal and the new median configuration would eliminate left turn lanes from Cornish and Darling. Motorists would be able to use an improved intersection to access Cornish and Darning via Radcliffe and Detering. The West 11th intersection would also be modified to become an accessible pedestrian crossing with the help of new signal equipment.

Perhaps important to many was the question of potentially acquiring land to ensure new bike lanes and pedestrian walkways have sufficient room, however Haddock said the project will work within the existing right of way.

“I can say we will not be acquiring any right of way for this project,” Haddock said.

The project itself would be completed in two portions, with Washington to I-10 projected to be completed in 2018 and I-10 to Timbergrove Lane to be completed by 2019, according to the proposal.

One resident voiced concern during the meeting over the new drainage which would be designed to drain water into the White Oak Bayou, given the recent flooding, and suggested underground retention facilities would be better served for the area. Haddock said officials have examined the drainage situation and said officials would not simply increase the flow of water without looking into other retention methods.

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