It's one of the busiest streets in Houston, and it's getting a huge makeover. The Upper Kirby District is in the midst of major road rehabilitation, but there are some new changes to the lane closures and construction you are used to driving around.
Sara Brook owns Dessert Gallery, and she's used to seeing long lines of traffic at her new location at Kirby and Richmond, but it hasn't stopped the long lines of customers waiting to try cupcakes, cookies, and a wide variety of one-of-a-kind treats.
"Our original café was just two blocks up the street, so construction has followed us," she said. "First it was at our old location, and now we've moved here and now construction is right back out our front door!" Sara is a Native Houstonian, and she is pleased that the construction on Kirby hasn't put the brakes on her 15-year-old business. "People will go to great lengths to get their piece of cake!"
The reason for the construction? The Upper Kirby District is giving the street a facelift, moving power lines and utilities underground and building a new "prettier" streetscape. The final product will boast wider sidewalks, pedestrian furniture, and synchronized stop lights. The Upper Kirby District is now working on the stretch of Kirby between Richmond and US-59. That portion of the road is just 1,500 feet long, but it's home to dozens of shops and restaurants that hope to keep business strong especially during the holiday shopping season. "It's our biggest season, so we would hate for them to be cut off from us," Brook said of her customers.
Now, Upper Kirby has made plans to make sure businesses are not blocked and avoid additional lane closures. The Upper Kirby District will keep one lane closed in each direction on Kirby, but they are not making a traffic "switch", which could potentially confuse drivers who are used to the current closures. By keeping a couple of lanes closed, roadwork will stop, allowing the utility companies to finish their work before the beginning of the year. Travis Younkin of the Upper Kirby District says they want to make traffic flow easy for commuters and businesses -- "get everything completed out of the way of traffic completely and people can continue to drive the way they've become accustomed to driving."
You can use Buffalo Speedway or Greenbriar to avoid the backups, but for businesses here, it's just a waiting game. "If it takes a little construction for a little while, we're good with it," Brook said.
For the thriving bakery, an easier drive down Kirby will be the icing on the cake.