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Get ready to avoid Kirby Drive

This is going to suck like a shop vac on steroids.

On an average day, about 50,000 vehicles traverse West University Place along the four lanes that are Kirby Drive.

Sometime before the year-end holidays, though — and for at least the two years that follow — the definition of “average day” will be drastically altered by construction work that will systematically reduce the number of lanes by half, with no such reduction in traffic likely.

“West University is like an innocent bystander in this,” said project manager Martin J. Cristofaro of the Houston Stormwater Management Program. “Still, you’re looking at major impact in the community. Right around Christmas is when you’re really going to see something.”

The “something” Cristofaro referred to is the fallout from the Kirby Drive Storm Sewer Relief Project, as its crane and heavy equipment approach Holcombe Boulevard. The Kirby project is the largest of three systems that make up the $72 million Medical Center Drainage Project, which recently began at North Braeswood Boulevard and will move slowly north until at least late 2007.

During this period, each of the more than half-mile long project segments will require the closing of one lane in each direction of the street.

This project is already going on, at and near the intersection of Kirby and both Braeswoods. It’s completely messed up my quickest route from where I work to most places that I go to eat lunch. I hadn’t realized it was going to continue north on Kirby. That’s going to be an unmitigated disaster from a traffic flow perspective. Kirby between University and 59 is a parking lot much of the day to begin with. You may have to be born north of 59 to get there once this kicks in.

In an attempt to minimize what he calls “cut-through traffic,” Cristofaro said efforts will be made to educate drivers about alternate ways to cross the area, such as Buffalo Speedway or Greenbriar Street. A Web site, www.swmp.org, will update construction progress.

“We’ll try to time the signals on Buffalo to move traffic much quicker,” Cristofaro said. “We’re going to try to get the word out.”

Um, you do know that this section of Buffalo Speedway is in West University Place, right? Where anyone who’s ever driven on it refers to it as Buffalo Speedtrap thanks to the vigorous efforts of the West U gendarmery to enforce its 30 MPH speed limit? Good luck with that.

If all goes well, paving will be completed in mid-2008.

Just shoot me now. Link via blogHOUSTON.

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3 Comments

  1. Hrm… maybe I should make aliyah now and avoid the rush?

  2. TP says:

    I’m right there with ya, Charles. Did you see the added bonus for TP: the secondary construction on Quenby? Close to TP’s new place.

  3. Kenneth Fair says:

    Not to mention the U.S. 59-Spur 527 construction, which blocks other routes.

    I think you’re right; they’re trying to cut Houston in half along 59.