About six months ago, the Texas Department of Transportation told the city it would be overlaying Main Street with new asphalt from just east of I-45 to just west of FM 270 around March 2021. That is when League City officials proposed installing medians, which could be the beginning of other improvements for the road.
“The median is to draw attention to we’re doing something; we’re making improvements here,” said David Hoover, director of planning and development.
Officials believe Main Street needs a breath of fresh air to make it attractive to residents and visitors. By installing medians and landscaping them with grass and trees, the area will become more desirable and safer, Hoover said.
Most of Main Street between I-45 and FM 270 includes a shared center turn lane. Generally, more vehicle crashes happen on roads with such lanes, though they do allow easier access to businesses because residents can turn at any point from either direction, Hoover said.
Over 10 years ago, the city proposed installing medians, and Main Street business owners shot it down, saying it would lead to closures because motorists would not be willing to make U-turns or navigate Main Street differently to reach their businesses.
“The primary concerns are people are fearful that if we do something to cause people to alter their routines, they won’t do it,” Hoover said. “That’s just unrealistic.”
In the decade since League City did not install medians, Main Street and its businesses have still suffered, Hoover said.
Businesses have closed; no new businesses have opened; residents do not walk Main Street; and the road is deteriorating. Meanwhile, areas of the city with medians are seeing new businesses because they “look successful,” he said.
While owners of businesses along Main Street do not oppose beautifying the city, they have concerns medians would hurt their businesses.
Lynn Davis of Clear Creek Orthodontics, which is just off Main Street, spoke at an Oct. 27 League City City Council meeting. Representing eight other business owners along Main Street, Davis expressed concerns with the medians being installed.
“To us, it is a main project [that affects] our businesses that has had an effect on these people who run these businesses,” he said. “It’s very concerning to us.”
League City officials believe medians will attract, not deter, potential customers. Officials do not want businesses to fail at the expense of installing medians, Hoover said.
“That’s like throwing money away,” he said. “We really do understand the fear and the concern that the people do have, ... especially on the heels of all this COVID[-19] stuff.”
As a bonus, the $6 million worth of work would be free. TxDOT has enough money to do the asphalt overlay and install medians along Main Street and landscape existing medians on several other roads without charging League City anything, Hoover said.
“The best thing about is it’s free,” he said.
League City City Council voted Nov. 10 to establish an ad hoc committee of Main Street business owners to involve them in the decision-making process.