Post Oak Blvd to be reconstructed to add bus-only lanes for commuters

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Plans are underway to make it easier for employees in the Uptown area to get to work, by constructing dedicated bus lanes (KTRK)

In just a couple of years, the West Loop and Post Oak Boulevard in the Galleria area could have a whole new look. Plans are underway to make it easier for employees in the Uptown area to get to work, by constructing dedicated bus lanes.

"We need to get people from where they live to where they work, and that is our primary objective," John Breeding, president of Uptown Houston explains.

About 80,000 people work in the Uptown area, making it the largest non-downtown business center in the nation, and public transportation there is virtually non-existent. Uptown Houston identified the northwest corridor as the area where the most Uptown employees live.

To help those commuters get to work more easily, a new bus system will utilize the 290 HOV lanes to connect those employees directly to their work site. Crews will build elevated bus lanes along the West Loop, starting at the Northwest Transit Center, at the Katy Freeway and the West Loop.

Those buses would then be able to drive down a reconstructed Post Oak Boulevard on dedicated ground-level bus lanes that extend to Richmond Avenue. The three existing driving lanes on Post Oak will be maintained, but wider 12-foot sidewalks with landscaping, will be added.

To accommodate the new bus lanes, crews will have to gut all of Post Oak Blvd, while still keeping the thousands of offices, shops, and residences accessible.

"Throughout construction, we will maintain a minimum of two lanes in each direction in operation, and we will maintain all of our left-hand turns," Breeding says.

Companies like BHP Billiton are on-board. The petroleum company is about to fill a brand new 30-story office, with more employees --and more commuters -- right along Post Oak.

"People in this city have to drive a long way, so anything we can do to help lessen that commute time, will be an absolute attraction and retention factor," Jennifer Koury of BHP Billiton explains.

Utility construction could begin as early as late 2015, with a 2017 goal completion date. Funding for the project will come from several sources, including TxDOT, Uptown Houston, and federal grants.

"It is such an important part of the economic success of this area," Breeding says.
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