Infrastructure

Yard Debris and Flooding by Mark Sternfels

The residents of the 2400 Julian St. condos have suffered several flooding issues over the past year. Some of the floods have been attributed to tree-trimming debris being washed down the creek that runs parallel to Julian St. (between the houses on Julian & White Oak Dr.), resulting in a blockage of the culvert which runs underneath the road at the condos. Residents whose properties back onto the creek are kindly reminded to ensure that no tree-debris is left in close proximity to the creek to help avoid damage to nearby homes during heavy rainfall.

Questions or comments? Contact WHCA Infrastructure, Phil Teague.

Traffic Program Update by Mark Sternfels

Thank you to everybody who took the time to submit comments to the city regarding the proposed Traffic Management plan. Upon review of all of the comments submitted to the City, Mr. Weatherford, Director of PWE, has determined that there is sufficient justification for the neighborhood to remain in the program. City engineers will draft a new modified plan based upon your comments and the City will invite all neighbors to a new public meeting once the plan is ready for public viewing. No timeline has been given for when that new meeting could occur.

Questions or comments? Contact WHCA Infrastructure, Phil Teague.

City Working to Create Historic District Guidelines by Mark Sternfels

Earlier this year, the City of Houston approved changes to the City's Historic District ordinance. As part of those changes, City Council authorized the development of design guidelines for the three designated historic districts in the Houston Heights. The City ultimately bid out the design guideline project, and awarded the contract to Winter & Co, a nationally renowned and leading urban design guideline firm in the country. Because the bid also came in lower than the City expected, the City added other historic districts that have not yet developed design guidelines to the contract, including the Woodland Heights and Norhill. Other nearby neighborhoods, such as Germantown, (also located within the WHCA area) have already had design guidelines approved by City Council.

The design guidelines are primarily useful in identifying, visually, the scope, the variance, and the options available to residents looking to build or remodel buildings located in the historic district. Instead of interpreting the words of the ordinance, residents, architects and builders will be able to visually see pictures and renderings of options appropriate for that particular historic area. Moreover, the City and Winter will also consider whether larger historic districts ought to refine the guidelines to take into consideration whether some blocks or areas should consider different design guidelines than other blocks or areas.

Over the next year, Winter and the City will be working closely with residents in the Woodland Heights Historic District to develop design guidelines. The guidelines, which are part of the original intent of the Historic District ordinance, will be developed by Winter, with significant input from residents, including the collection of surveys, opinions, and community review of multiple drafts. In addition, the City has formed an interest committee with residents, builders, and others, to keep check on the City and Winter's progress through the process. David Jordan, who formerly oversaw deed restrictions and land use in the Woodland Heights, and is a resident in the Woodland Heights Historic District, has been appointed to that committee.

The City's effort is led by Steph McDougal, a PhD, historic preservation expert hired specifically for this project by the City's Historic Preservation, Planning & Development Department. McDougal held a meeting on June 20, 2016 at Hogg Middle School for residents of the Woodland Heights Historic District, who were notified by mail of the meeting. Residents were able to ask questions about the process and approach, and hear more about the program. Woodland Heights Historic District residents with questions can reach out to Mr. McDougal or Mr. Jordan.

Major Closures Related to Houston Ave. Bridge Reconstruction by Mark Sternfels

Council Member Cisneros' office sent the following information to the WHCA regarding the upcoming closures that will facilitate the start of the partial reconstruction of the Houston Ave. Bridge near Allen Parkway. This prep work is required to facilitate the construction of the new Allen Parkway Entrance Ramp to IH 45 Southbound. 
 
These closures will be input into the TxDOT PIO system on Monday, 06.27.16.

  1. IH 45 Southbound Main lanes between the North Main Entrance Ramp and IH 10:  Alternate, (Inside), Lanes closed continuously between 9:00 PM on Friday, 07.08.16 and 5:00 AM on Monday, 07.11.16.  At least two main lanes will remain open.
  2. IH 45 Southbound Mainlanes at IH 10:  Total Closure continuously between 9:00 PM on Friday, 07.08.16 and 5:00 AM on Monday, 07.11.16.  Detour: IH 10 Eastbound to US 59 Southbound; Follow US 59 Southbound to IH 45.
  3. IH 10 Westbound Exit to IH 45 Southbound:    Total Closure continuously between 8:30 PM on Friday, 07.08.16 and 5:00 AM on Monday, 07.11.16.  Detour: IH 10 Westbound to the Taylor Exit; Left, (South) on Taylor; Left, (East) onto the IH 10 Eastbound Entrance Ramp.  Follow the IH 10 Eastbound Mainlanes to the exit to IH 45 Southbound.
  4. IH 10 Eastbound Exit to IH 45 Southbound:    Total Closure continuously between 8:30 PM on Friday, 07.08.16 and 5:00 AM on Monday, 07.11.16.  Detour: IH 10 Eastbound to US 59 Southbound; Follow US 59 Southbound to IH 45.
  5. IH 45 Southbound Mainlanes between IH 10 (Dart St.) and Walker:  1 Right, (Outside), Lane closed continuously between 5:00 AM on Monday, 07.11.16 and 5:00 AM on Wednesday, 09.07.16.
  6. IH 45 Southbound Exit to Dallas St./Pierce St.: Total Closure Continuously between 9:00 PM on Friday, 07.08.16 and 5:00 AM on Wednesday, 09.07.16.  Detour Southbound on IH 45 to the IH 45 Southbound Exit to McKinney; Right, (West) on Smith, Left on Pierce St.
  7. Allen Parkway Eastbound Entrance Ramp to IH 45 Southbound:  Total Closure Continuously between 5:00 AM on Tuesday, 07.05.16 and 5:00 AM on Monday, 11.14.16.  Detour: Eastbound on Allen Parkway/Dallas; Right, (West) on Smith, Left, (East) on Jefferson; Follow Jefferson to the IH 45 Southbound Entrance Ramp.
  8. Houston Ave. Southbound between Washington Ave. and Rusk:  1 Alternate Lane closed continuously between 7:30 PM on Friday, 07.08.16 and 5:00 AM on Wednesday, 09.07.16.
  9. Houston Ave. Southbound at Lubbock and at Rusk:  Total Closure Continuously between 7:30 PM on Friday, 07.08.16 and 5:00 AM on Wednesday, 09.07.16.   Detour:  Right, (Eastbound) on Rusk; Right, (South) on Smith; Left, (East) on Jefferson; Follow Jefferson to the IH 45 Southbound Entrance Ramp.

Phil Teague, WHCA VP of Infrastructure, will coordinate with TXDoT to ensure that the IH 10 Watson west or eastbound exit is shut off when it needs to be to inhibit redirect traffic from the freeway closures.

Bike Trail Detours by Mark Sternfels

The Heights and White Oak bike trails detours as part of construction work on I-45 will begin as soon as June 25th and is expected to last until the third quarter of 2017. According to the official press release:

The detour along Houston Avenue is provided on the west side of the southbound lane between Spring Street and White Oak Drive. Two detour plans are to be implemented in an effort to provide a more feasible, long-term solution in partnership with TxDOT, the City of Houston and Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County.

Accident at Bayland and Morrison by Mark Sternfels

An accident involving a car and motorcycle occurred at the intersection of Bayland and Morrison on Friday, May 20th around 8 PM. Both drivers were taken away by ambulance. The WHCA, through the Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan, has proposed a traffic circle for this precise intersection to encourage drivers in both directions to be more aware.

Photograph by Woodland Heights resident Cindy Wilson.

Photograph by Woodland Heights resident Cindy Wilson.

Woodland Heights Revised Neighborhood Traffic Calming Plan by Mark Sternfels

The traffic calming plan uses two devices: speed cushions and traffic circles. These devices would in no way take away from private property or existing city easements. The proposed plan is temporary for a test period of 90 to 210 days. At the conclusion of the test period, another traffic study will be performed to verify that speeds/volumes were reduced on the main streets, and traffic did not shift to other streets.

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Recent Traffic Problems by Mark Sternfels

Last week, the neighborhood experienced a significant traffic spike as a result of TxDOT’s closure of I-10 to do construction on the Houston Avenue Bridge. This included several 18-wheelers streaming up Watson, despite the sign at Usener and Watson that clearly prohibits such traffic. The WHCA is working with State and City officials, including the Mayor’s office, to make sure that they have a plan in place to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself the next time I-10 or I-45 is shut down. But this is also a reminder of the importance to implement traffic calming measures in the neighborhood. If you would like to join the neighborhood committee that is working with the City on this issue, please email us at infrastructure@woodland-heights.org

Revisions to Historic Preservation Ordinance by Mark Sternfels

Historic preservation is important to many of our members, so the WHCA believes it is important for its members to be aware that the City’s Planning and Development Department is proposing changes to Chapter 33, Historic Preservation Ordinance. According to the City, the changes were crafted to correct and clarify targeted items and create greater consistency for applicants and for the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission (HAHC). The proposed changes and the information related to this process can be found on their website.

Comments from the public may be submitted by calling 832-393-6556, via email, or by mail to HPD Review, Planning and Development Department, P.O. Box 1562, Houston, Texas 77251-1562. HAHC will review all comments and consider final action at its August 27, 2015 meeting, so please take the time to read the proposed revisions and to submit your comments before August 27, 2015.

URGENT: I-45 Expansion by Mark Sternfels

Message from WHCA President

One of the most important issues facing our neighborhood right now is the possible expansion of I-45. TxDOT is accepting comments until May 31 regarding its new, proposed plan. The WHCA is supporting the positions outlined by neighborhood resident Jim Weston and his I-45 Coalition and will be providing comments to I-45 along those lines. I encourage all of our residents to do the same. Please visit the I-45 Coalition's website for more information, and please get your comments in by May 31.  Thank you.

Neighborhood Traffic Study Underway by Mark Sternfels

Did you notice the traffic monitoring devices recently installed throughout the neighborhood? These devices, which measure both traffic volume and vehicle speeds, are for the initial traffic study for the Woodland Heights Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP). The NTMP is a program administered by the city aimed at reducing cut-through traffic and increasing pedestrian safety on residential streets. The NTMP for Woodland Heights will be a multi-year project and no traffic-calming measures will be implemented without extensive feedback from, and with the approval of, the residents of Woodland Heights. 

You’ve probably also noticed the city has recently begun repaving White Oak Dr. between Studemont and Houston Ave. This project is scheduled to be completed by June 30.