I-45, Woodridge Village, COVID-19: July 28 Harris County Commissioners Court meeting preview

The Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council voted June 26 to form a working group to craft a memorandum of understanding that is envisioned as a way to secure commitments from the Texas Department of Transportation and other stakeholders around the North Houston Highway Improvement Project. (Nathan Colbert/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council voted June 26 to form a working group to craft a memorandum of understanding that is envisioned as a way to secure commitments from the Texas Department of Transportation and other stakeholders around the North Houston Highway Improvement Project. (Nathan Colbert/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council voted June 26 to form a working group to craft a memorandum of understanding that is envisioned as a way to secure commitments from the Texas Department of Transportation and other stakeholders around the North Houston Highway Improvement Project. (Nathan Colbert/Community Impact Newspaper)

Harris County commissioners are slated to discuss a number of subjects at a July 28 Commissioners Court meeting, including the county's response to the coronavirus pandemic and an improvement project along I-45 that has garnered scrutiny for the negative effects it may have on low-income neighborhoods in the area.

Here are a few discussions to watch out for during the meeting.

Groups continue to work on alternatives to North Houston Highway Improvement Project


As the city of Houston continues to explore alternatives to the North Houston Highway Improvement Project, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is asking the court to authorize county departments, including the engineering department and the toll road authority, to negotiate an agreement with the Houston Parks Board on the continued gathering of public feedback as a final path is narrowed down.

The project initially involved expanding I-45 between Beltway 8 and Hwy. 288/Hwy. 59, including rerouting the highway along Hwy. 59 instead of having it run through Midtown. Information from the Texas Department of Transportation showed the project, as proposed, would have require displacing 344 commercial buildings, 160 single-family homes and 919 multifamily homes.

Earlier this year, the city of Houston presented alternative routes to TxDOT that officials said were guided by public feedback from residents who would be affected.

In late June, the Houston-Galveston Area Council began working on nailing down an agreement between the city, the county, TxDOT, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County and the Harris County Flood Control District.


"Harris County has an interest in funding this work in order to ensure that the activities going forward appropriately address the concerns outlined by Harris County leadership, departments, and community members," Hidalgo wrote in her request.

Commissioner seeks update on purchase of property tied to flooding woes in Kingwood


Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle has put an item on the agenda asking for an update from the Harris County Flood Control District on its efforts to purchase a 268-acre tract of land in Montgomery County, which has been tied to flooding woes in the Elm Grove community in the Kingwood area.

The county is seeking to buy the land from Perry Homes, the developer behind the nearby Woodridge Village community where the land is located.

Cagle spoke about the negotiations to the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce in late June. He said at the time that the flood control district and the city of Houston were working on an interlocal agreement and conditions for the purchase.

Once the land is purchased, county officials have said they want to turn it into a regional detention facility.

Various COVID-19-related agenda items


Commissioners will discuss a variety of items related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, including a discussion on the spread of COVID-19 at the Harris County Jail, hazard pay for Harris County employees during the pandemic, putting $1 million into a paid media campaign urging residents to do their part to slow the rate of viral transmissions and a discussion on evictions in the county.

Harris County Clerk Christopher Hollins also placed an item on the agenda requesting the use of $5.2 million to transfer election operations for the Nov. 3 general election to NRG Arena. Commissioners previously voted to provide the Harris County Clerk's Office with an injection of up to $12 million to carry out the election amid the pandemic. Hollins said the $5.2 million would come from that $12 million.

During July primary runoff elections, the county set up shop at its Election Technology Center on Todd Street. Moving everything to NRG Arena will provide the county with space to process an anticipated increase in mail ballots, store election equipment and supplies, run the call center and conduct the central count, Hollins said. The arena would also serve as a polling place at which voters would be able to cast a ballot through walk-ins as well as through a new drive-thru voting system that was piloted during the runoffs, Hollins said.

"The approximate cost for this move includes expenses for laptop computers for ballot by mail operations, the call center, and administrative staff, as well as [information technology] needs for the setup of the NRG space," Hollins wrote in his request.

The July 28 meeting of Harris County Commissioners Court will take place virtually at 10 a.m. More information on how to tune in, sign up for public comment or find a full agenda can be found here.
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.