Officials seek new funding sources as Lower Westheimer is left off Houston’s Capital Improvement Plan

Westheimer Road
In 2016, the city of Houston convened local residents, business owners and civic leaders to provide input on a plan for the Lower Westheimer corridor, which attracts a high volume of visitors but has lagged behind in infrastructure improvements. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)

In 2016, the city of Houston convened local residents, business owners and civic leaders to provide input on a plan for the Lower Westheimer corridor, which attracts a high volume of visitors but has lagged behind in infrastructure improvements. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)

A plan to improve the stretch of Westheimer road through much of Houston’s popular dining and shopping destinations in Montrose is again facing funding hurdles.

In 2016, the city of Houston convened local residents, business owners and civic leaders to provide input on a plan for the corridor that attracts a high volume of visitors but has lagged behind in infrastructure improvements.

The result was a detailed plan to upgrade dangerous intersections, add bike lanes and improve sidewalks. That proposal, however, has since been pushed back on the city’s annual list of infrastructure priorities known as the Capital Improvement Plan or CIP. It was removed from the list altogether in the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 and did not return to the FY 2021-22 plan which was adopted June 23.

“This is a long term project,” District C Houston City Council Member Abbie Kamin said. ‘We are going to push as hard as we can to get the funding to move forward and at the same time I am doing everything I can to focus on the area and work on improvements.”

In the fiscal year 2019-20 CIP, construction was forecast for 2023. The project has been on the CIP since 2016, ranging in estimated cost from $14 million to almost $18 million. The proposal targets Elgin Street and Westheimer Road from Main Street in midtown to Montrose Boulevard.


In the meantime, Kamin said she has been working with local groups such as the Montrose Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone to organize and fund smaller-scale improvements such as individual crosswalk and traffic signal upgrades. She also plans to help facilitate an application for grant funding from the Houston-Galveston Area Council. The project was rejected by the council in 2018, under a previous set of project ranking criteria.

The original proposal also needs to be updated to reflect flood mitigation efforts that take into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Atlas-14 study, Kamin said. The study updated the nation’s flood zone maps to reflect rainfall patterns that have intensified since the early 1990s.

The FY 2021-22 CIP lays out a $6.2 billion schedule of projects over the next five years. It includes projects directly funded by the city's dedicated street and drainage fees as well as tax-increment reinvestment zones, which oversee projects in their defined areas.

Matt Dulin contributed to this report.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


MOST RECENT

As variants are isolated and identified, Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass believes the vaccines available can handle identified variants (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'The vaccines we have are effective against all the variants out there': Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass discusses variants, vaccinations

As Houston Methodist identified its first case of the lambda variant July 19, Dr. Glass believes vaccines can handle known variants.

The Houston City Council approved spending $19.6 million on the development of Caroline Lofts, a planned affordable rental home community that will go in Midtown at 2403 Caroline St., Houston. (Courtesy City of Houston)
City of Houston approves $19.6 million investment for new affordable rental homes in Midtown

The 119-home project is meant to ensure the availability of housing for low- and moderate-income families in Houston's burgeoning Innovation Corridor.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

port of houston
Port of Houston sets new diversity standards for business contracts

The port is joining a growing number of local and regional bodies interested in updating policies to increase participation from minority and women-owned businesses.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is pleading with residents to be more vigilant, asking all residents to start wearing masks again in indoor settings and asking those who are vaccinated to urge their friends who are not to get the shot. (Screenshot Courtesy Facebook)
Harris County raises coronavirus threat level as Hidalgo asks all residents to mask up indoors

Although those who are vaccinated are very unlikely to end up in the hospital, officials said wearing masks in certain situations could help reduce transmissions to the more susceptible unvaccinated.

Memorial Hermann has locations throughout the Greater Houston area, including Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. (Courtesy Memorial Hermann)
Memorial Hermann visiting policies change as COVID-19 cases rise

As of July 21, Memorial Hermann has changed its visitor policy in light of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Greater Houston area.

drainage
Houston launches revamped 3-1-1 system

City staff have been in the process of updating the system over the last nine months.

Houston unemployment is above state and national levels, while home sales in the region continue to be strong, according to a July 21 economic update from the Greater Houston Partnership. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Unemployment, strong housing sales mark 2021 Houston economy, Greater Houston Partnership says

While Houston job recovery lags due to the pandemic, area home sales are strong, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

In a late-night amendment addition, Harris County Commissioners Court denied an original resolution aiming to increase restrictions on nonmonetary pretrial release bonds in a split vote after hearing over two hours of public testimony July 20 for and against the resolution. The amended resolution, which was approved in a second split vote, favors focusing on criminal court backlogs and funding alternative public safety solutions. (Courtesy Pexels)
After hours of debate, Harris County commissioners oppose resolution restricting felony nonmonetary pretrial release bonds

In a late-night amendment addition, Harris County Commissioners Court denied an original resolution aiming to increase restrictions on non-monetary pretrial release bonds in a split vote after hearing over two hours of public testimony July 20 for and against the resolution.

The restaurant serves a variety of Indian appetizers, entrees and sweets. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
A1 Choice Indian Cuisine opens in Cy-Fair; Torchy's Richmond taco shop coming this week and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area, including a Ross Dress For Less store opening in Cy-Fair.

With cases, testing positivity and hospitalizations on the rise, health care experts say a fourth wave of the coronavirus is starting in Houston. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
The fourth wave: Medical Center officials talk masks, vaccines as delta variant cases pick up

The key difference between this wave and those that preceded it is who is at risk, experts say, citing data showing almost all new coronavirus deaths are affecting the unvaccinated.