The Woodlands Edition | October 2020

A total of $84 million of the $280 million 2015 Montgomery County road bond went toward Pre- cinct 3 projects, most of which has now been used.

Project progress

242

8

COMPLETEIN PROGRESS IN PRECINCT 3

REMAINING IN PRECINCT 3

2

Woodlands Parkway widen-

Rayford Road widening,

Gosling Road bridge (with

$8.23M

$4M

$54.2M

4

7

3

ing (two portions), complet- ed May 2018 and June 2019

completed April 2020 Elan Boule- completed May 2019 Birnham Woods Drive widening (two portions), completed August 2019 $4.07M vard widening, $1.71M

Harris County)

7

$6.06M Road widening

ELAN BLVD.

5

8

Lake Woodlands Drive widening,

$1.5M

Kuykendahl

2

45

completed August 2020

R A Y

5

6

6

Woodlands Park- way-Robinson

$3.5M

4

3

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

N

BIRNHAMWOODS DR.

Road realignments, com- plete October 2020

FUNDING SPLIT

mobility plans to chart their needs, and a countywide thoroughfare plan update covering main arteries and rights of way is in progress, Riley said. In Precinct 3, which was allocated $84 million through the bond, eight road projects funded by the bond are now built, including the $55 million widening of Rayford Road from east of I-45 to the Grand Parkway—the bond’s largest local item—which was completed under budget this spring, according to the precinct. Agencies such as TxDOT and the HGAC are also examining remaining needs along some of the county’s most traveled roads to keep pace with a population that rose 33% between 2010 and 2019 to more than 607,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and is pro- jected to surpass 1 million by 2040, according to the HGAC. HGAC Transportation Planner Car- lene Mullins said improving the coun- ty’s east-west andnorth-southmobility by the mid-2020s is key to addressing its transportation needs amid ongoing growth. The focus is shared by county commissioners, according to Riley. “The roads that are here from east to west, like [Hwy.] 105, [FM] 1097, [FM] 1488, [Hwy.] 242, are at capacity or near capacity or overcapacity, and those are the ones that we’re going to have to look at to try to expand before we try to put something new on the ground right now,” he said. Projects around The Woodlands identied by the HGAC in its 2021-24 Transportation Improvement Pro- gram—a regional plan prioritizing road projects to receive state and fed- eral funding—include an estimated $24.6 million widening of Hwy. 242 west of I-45 and a $121.48 million extension of Old Conroe Road north across the West Fork San Jacinto River. Riley said his precinct has also been working with Conroe ocials on that extension project. It would

provide the county with an essential new north-south alternative to I-45, according to Mullins. TxDOT spokesperson Emily Black said the agency is evaluating local needs with ocials and residents, with a recent focus on east-west cor- ridors such as FM 1488 and Hwy. 242. TxDOT’s access management study of FM 1488 from Magnolia to I-45 concluded this spring, resulting in the recommendation of more than $19 million in enhancements to one of the county’s major lateral arteries within the next ve years. The agency’s I-45 planning and environmental linkage study, span- ning from north Houston to Conroe, is expected to bring proposed improve- ments for the county’s central corri- While the Old Conroe Road exten- sion is slated to be nanced by both local and federal sources, state funds will support projects along I-45, FM 1488 and other corridors in the area. Taxes in Texas are a primary source for transportation funds, and uncertainty surrounding the pandem- ic’s eects on the next several years of state nances and budgeting could aect the status of infrastructure improvements. According to information from the oce of Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, most categories of state tax collections decreased this spring and summer—including motor fuel and sales taxes that feed into the State Highway Fund, TxDOT’s primary funding source. FromApril through August, monthly statewide sales and use tax collections dropped by an average of 6.05% over their 2019 values; vehicle sales taxes fell by an average of 19.68%; fuel taxes fell by an average of 16.02%; oil pro- duction taxes dipped by an average dor by late 2021. Funding forecast

CONTINUED FROM 1

Precinct 3 was allocated 30% of the county’s 2015 road bond funds.

including those receiving state or federal funding through the Texas Department of Transportation or Houston-Galveston Area Council—a regional government planning coop- erative—depends on the scal eects of the pandemic on government budgets. Ocials and transportation planners are now looking ahead to the uncertainty of lowered funding over the coming years as Texas is projected to see a $4.58 billion budget shortfall in 2021 alone. “We want to make sure we have all the options, all of the tools in the tool- kit that we possibly can to assist the Legislature and to assist the state in terms of continuing to grow our trans- portation and infrastructure,” said Aaron Cox, the vice president of the Texas Association of Business. Locally, Montgomery County is working through remaining projects funded by its $280 million road bond approved by voters in November 2015 along with new mobility and thor- oughfare plans. However, the pros- pects of future roadway development remain unclear. “We are pretty fortunate that we’ve got some projects that are already funded. … I just don’t know how much [TxDOT will] be able to award new projects and new funding at this time,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Char- lie Riley said. “We may miss a year or a year and a half with TxDOT trying to gure out how they can fund projects, but I don’t think it’s going to take too Nearly ve years after the passage of Montgomery County’s 2015 road bond, the majority of its dozens of planned projects are built or mov- ing toward completion. Precincts 2 and 4 are also developing their own long to recover.” County planning

Precinct 1: $64M Precinct 2: $64M Precinct 3: $84M Precinct 4: $68M

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

2

Lake Woodlands Drive work was completed ahead of schedule.

4

Rayford Road’s new lanes and bridge were completed in April.

Hitting the brakes TxDOT reported decreased weekly trac throughout the state in the rst months of the pandemic, which transportation planners credited for faster project timelines this year.

TRAFFIC DECREASES*

MARCH 28 APRIL 3 APRIL 25 MAY 1 MAY 30 JUNE 5 JUNE 27 JULY 3 JULY 25 JULY 31

-41%

-32%

-15%

-19% -18%

*CHANGE COMPARED TO FEB. 2228 SOURCE: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTA TIONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

52

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