Houston: Bellaire Uptown Transit Center Due in 2020
Feature Photo (above): Looking west from the U.S. 59 to southbound I-610 interchange ramp, the frontage property south of Westpark Drive (far left) will be the future site of the Bellaire Uptown Transit Center. Image: Google Streets.
Original Post: 7-23-2018
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) – The Uptown Houston District anticipates reaching the construction stage on the long-awaited Bellaire Uptown Transit Center by October, according to a filing by the project’s design engineer.
The $17 million project has been on the district’s drawing board since at least 2013.
Walter P. Moore, the architectural/engineering firm, filed a progress report with the state July 18 giving an estimated start of October 2018, and an estimated completion date of April 2020. That is about one year later than the original estimated completion period.
The transit center will be the southern hub in a bus transit master plan that includes improvements to Post Oak Boulevard. According to the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, the north end of the Uptown BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) will connect to the Metro system at the Northwest Transit Center (near the interchange of Interstates 10 and 610).
The project site for the Uptown Transit Center. Courtesy of City of Houston public records.
“A new transit center on Westpark Drive will connect at the south end,” according to Metro.
A Metro map of the future connection between the Northwest Transit Center and the Uptown Transit Center in Bellaire.
The reconstruction of Post Oak Boulevard through Uptown is part of the project, and a key component of the reconstruction is the addition of dedicated bus lanes. Uptown Houston announced in June that construction on the dedicated bus lanes had begun.
The transit center will be located on just under 3.5 acres of undeveloped land south of Westpark Drive near the U.S. 59 and Interstate 610 interchange.
Walter P. Moore describes the facility as a three-story transit center and parking lot.
“The proposed structure will be cast-in-place (concrete),” the Moore report states.
The first level will be used by local Metro buses and BRT buses coming in off Westpark Drive. The second level will be public parking–a Park-N-Ride. The third level will be reserved for Metro buses that are coming to and from U.S. 59; this implies there will be new entrance and exit ramps to the site from the freeway.
“Between the surface parking lot and the elevated second floor, there are anticipated to be approximately 239 parking spaces,” Moore stated.
“The users of the facility will be parking in the public parking spaces and then either catching their bus on the ground level or on the third floor. The users will get from level to level by utilizing elevators.
“The roof level (third floor) will have a canopy system to protect waiting bus-goers from the elements,” Moore said.
In another sign that activity is ramping up, Vernon G. Henry & Associates Inc. submitted a plat to the city for approval of the future transit center site. It was approved July 19 by the Planning Commission on condition that it be amended in a re-plat to include wastewater capacity and stormwater detention systems. The project returned to the Planning Commission on Aug. 2 for a variance allowing development next to a street (Anderson Street) that has a width of less than 60 feet.
The Uptown Houston District, a tax increment redevelopment zone also known as Harris County Improvement District #1, has described the road project as “an exquisitely designed grand boulevard while preserving existing automobile access, substantially improving transit service and creating a beautifully landscaped pedestrian environment.”
The project began out of a recognition that Uptown lacked effective commuter transit service. The district employs about 80,000 people and the lack of service is a detriment to growth.
Illustration of Post Oak Boulevard with dedicated bus lanes. Courtesy of Uptown Houston District.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.