In November, a series of meetings were held to gain public input on the Montgomery County Thoroughfare Plan. The plan, requested by Montgomery County, promotes connectivity and uniformity in road design.
Montgomery County, the city of Conroe, the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Department of Transportation collaborated on the plan to outline projects intended as guidelines for future roadway development. The original thoroughfare plan dates back to 1979.
“The study team had been working with Montgomery County and the city of Conroe to produce the map,” said Carlene Mullins, transportation planner for H-GAC. “We’ve had focus groups, and we went around to all four precincts and talked to the various cities, police departments, chambers of commerce, developers and school districts, and we received their input on where the problems were.”
There are a lot of missing roadway connections in Montgomery County, she said.
“If there’s an accident on [I-45] and [I-45] shuts down, there’s no way to get to Conroe or to get to Houston,” Mullins said. “One of the objectives was to add missing links and roadways by just getting more roads that will take you from Harris County to Montgomery County without having to use [I-45].”
Mullins said the group recorded public input—that period ended Dec. 4—and designed a corridor map of areas that need to be studied.
“We looked to see where there were gaps in the roadway network to improve the connectivity across the county,” she said.
Since the county requested an updated study more than a year ago, the group has added many roads, Mullins said. The MCTP guides future developments and provides the public and developers with the information they need to proceed with projects.
“It is a 50-year plan that will help the way Montgomery County will want to be developed,” Mullins said.
Projects included in the plan are a Woodlands Parkway expansion from Kuykendahl Road to FM 2978, an underpass on Research Forest Drive and Grogan’s Mill road and an overpass with u-turns at I-45 and Vision Park Drive.
Some of the significant challenges to the plan include railroad tracks, I-45 and the San Jacinto River because of its floodplain.
Paying for projects
Robert Heineman, vice president of planning for The Woodlands Development Company, said Montgomery County faces funding issues, and the planning related to these projects has to be completed once funding is available.
“On these roads that are [on the map], if you can set some priorities, future bond issues or county funds could be used to acquire rights of way to get the project ready,” he said.
The original thoroughfare plan has undergone four updates since the original was drafted more than three decades ago, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal said.
“It is important that the public become informed,” he said. “[The plan] does exist. I heard people saying that in the [May] bond they didn’t know it existed. It has been used numerous times for rights of way.”
Doyal said developers and the county work together using the MCTP to determine construction. Additionally, the MCTP gives the county an advantage in attracting funding with identified projects in place as well as being used as a planning tool for future bond issues.
The plan will be presented to the Commissioners Court by the end of the year.
“I am tickled to death the [November] bond issue passed, and we’re ready to go,” Doyal said. “Now it’s time to get to work.”