Increased mobility bolsters development
Partnerships between city, county and state officials, along with private developers, are focusing on meeting the increasing mobility demands of Sugar Land and Missouri City.
Voters approved Fort Bend County’s $185 million mobility bond in November, which will implement and improve several local roadways. In addition to the bond projects—which have primarily targeted roads in need of increased capacity—city and county officials have been working with the Texas Department of Transportation and private developers on road projects that will connect residents and provide alternate routes to overburdened major thoroughfares.
“There is a philosophy—if you do not build it, they will not come,” Precinct 4 County Commissioner James Patterson said. “Well, they are going to come, and what a mess you have if you are not looking out in front of the possibilities and finding out how to solve the problem.”
Major thoroughfares, such as Hwy. 6, Hwy. 90 and University Boulevard, have attracted continued retail, commercial and industrial development in Sugar Land and Missouri City. There are numerous mobility projects that are working to reduce congestion by giving drivers more options, specifically during peak traffic hours.
“University Boulevard connecting LJ Parkway now takes some traffic off of the Hwy. 6 corridor through Sugar Land and Missouri City,” Patterson said. “You can be coming from Hwy. 59 wanting to travel south toward Galveston and you do not have to get in the mix.”
The southern portion of University Boulevard opened in February 2013, connecting Commonwealth Boulevard to LJ Parkway. The roadway has allowed the development of Riverstone to advance quickly, said Tom Wilcox, general manager of the master-planned community.
“[University Boulevard] has had a tremendous impact not just on Riverstone, but residents who live in Sienna Plantation,” he said. “[The road] has been planned for years and was called the Hwy. 6 bypass. It has helped mobility in all directions.”
With the connection of LJ Parkway to Sienna Springs Road, drivers have benefited from the increased mobility through the area, Wilcox said.
The Johnson Development Corporation has plans to extend LJ Parkway to the north to connect with Commonwealth Boulevard, which is expected to open new acres for development.
As the build-out of Riverstone, Sienna Plantation and Imperial Sugar Land continues, Johnson Development is partnering with local municipalities, counties and toll road authorities to implement and align roads that coordinate with major thoroughfare plans, said Michael Smith, director of land development with Johnson Development.
“These public entities often look for partnerships with land developers to leverage their available tax dollars with private investment to maximize mobility in their jurisdictions,” he said. “Convenient access to jobs, schools, shopping and entertainment centers greatly enhance the quality of life for our residents.”
As Imperial Sugar Land begins development of its first two neighborhoods, new roadways are being built in response to the influx of new residents the area is expected to bring. The road projects connect with Hwy. 6 and will eventually tie in with Hwy. 90. The roads feature a roundabout configuration, which is designed to keep large amounts of traffic moving. The city of Sugar Land opened a roundabout along Lexington Boulevard in the Crescent Lakes community to reduce congestion brought on by development along University Boulevard.
In addition to local road projects, TxDOT is expected to begin widening the Hwy. 90 overpass between Hwy. 6 and the Grand Parkway with an additional lane in each direction within the next year, according to county officials. The project will help tie in New Territory residents to thoroughfares while reducing congestion, said Deidrea Samuels, public information officer with TxDOT.
The average drive time a typical Sugar Land or Missouri City resident commutes for work is nearly 30 minutes, according to a 2008–12 study by the U.S. Census Bureau. Until recently, there have been limited thoroughfares to connect residents with Houston’s freeway systems. Recent and upcoming roadway extensions, however, are giving residents direct access to not only the city’s major arteries, but to local commercial corridors as well.
Missouri City is planning to extend Vicksburg Boulevard to connect with Lake Olympia Boulevard from Hwy. 6. The project will also provide additional options for motorists wanting to access the Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road, Assistant City Manager Scott Elmer said.
“This will benefit one the city’s most congested intersections—Hwy. 6 and the Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road—by providing an alternate route so traffic is not being funneled through one intersection,” he said.
Contractors for the Vicksburg and Lexington boulevards extension projects are expected to be chosen later this year. Lexington Boulevard is expected to connect Texas Parkway to Scanlin Road and provide an additional major thoroughfare through the city.
The city will also extend Hurricane Lane between Trammel Fresno and Lake Olympia, which will provide a new on-ramp to the Fort Bend Parkway.
The Fort Bend Parkway extension into Sienna Plantation is nearing completion. The new roadway is expected to eventually tie in with Segment C of the Grand Parkway, which the county is designing, as well as the LJ Parkway corridor.
“The eventual connection to the Fort Bend Parkway will afford residents of Riverstone, Sienna Plantation and First Colony fairly easy access,” Wilcox said.