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Project connecting Greenhouse, Skinner roads moves forward
A proposed road project in Cypress involves extending Greenhouse Road under Union Pacific Corp. railroad tracks and Hwy. 290 to connect with Skinner Road.
Preliminary engineering work began in 2019 on a project to connect Greenhouse and Skinner roads in Cypress with an underpass that will run beneath Hwy. 290 and Union Pacific Corp. railroad tracks.
The underpass is a joint project between Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 500, which owns the land, along with the Texas Department of Transportation and Union Pacific. MUD No. 500 contracted with the engineering firm Edminster Hinshaw Russ and Associates in May.
The $38 million project is reliant in part of federal funding, said Patti Knudson, the CEO of Kundson LP, the urban planning and design firm brought on board by MUD No. 500 to manage the grant application process.Knudson said the project is not slated to receive federal funding until 2024, but said that timeline could be accelerated.
Because the MUD does not need to acquire any right of way for the project, officials could receive a clearance called a categorical exclusion, which Knudson said would allow workers to move forward with construction sooner. The design process could take 12-14 months, at which point the project would be ready for construction, she said.
"We have all the right of way we need, which is unusual for a project of this magnitude," Knudson said. "We’re hoping that both the state of Texas and the federal government agree to that our categorical exclusion is appropriate."
The plan calls for a six-lane roadway with 10-foot-wide hike and bike lanes along both sides of Greenhouse Road. To build the road underneath Hwy. 290, the eastbound frontage road of Hwy. 290 would be lowered to meet the elevation of the underpass. The U-turns would remain at the existing elevation. The project also calls for building a stormwater pump station to mitigate flooding during heavy rains.
The project was added to a four-year transportation improvement plan adopted by the Houston-Galveston Area Council in March and is slated to receive about $28.5 million in federal grant money. Along the way, the project received letters of support from Harris County Emergency Services District No. 9 and the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, which operates the Cypress Park & Ride at Skinner Road and Hwy. 290.
In a previous interview with Community Impact Newspaper, Tommy Balez, a commissioner with ESD No. 9, said the underpass will improve mobility in the area for emergency responders, allowing them to bypass trains on the railroad tracks and providing better access to the nearby HCA Houston Healthcare North Cypress Hospital.
Once construction begins, the project would take an estimated 20 months to build, said Truman Edminster, senior principal with EHRA Engineering.