Crash rates, traffic congestion prompt proposal to widen FM 529 in Katy area

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Twelve miles of FM 529 between the Grand Parkway to FM 362 in the northwest Katy area may be widened in the future.

The Texas Department of Transportation is considering public comments received during the spring about the FM 529 widening project to develop and propose a recommended alternative. TxDOT will hold a second public meeting this fall, will refine the recommended alternative through spring 2020 and will finalize environmental assessments by winter 2020.

The project would widen the existing FM 529 from a two-lane roadway to a six-lane roadway with a raised median between the Grand Parkway and Katy Hockley Cut Off Road, according to an April 30 TxDOT public meeting. It would also widen FM 529 to a four-lane roadway with a raised median between Katy Hockley Cut Off Road and FM 362. Sidewalks are proposed for both sides of the roadway.

The proposed project to widen FM 529 has three alternative plans:

  • Alternative 1 would widen the north side of FM 529, which would impact 56.4 acres of floodplains, 64.5 acres of floodways and would displace four structures, including one residential;
  • Alternative 2 proposes widening the center of FM 529, which would impact 59.3 acres of floodways, 59.5 acres of floodways and would displaces six structures including three businesses; and
  • Alternative 3 would widen the south side of FM 529, which would impact 62.3 acres of floodplains, 54.4 acres of floodways and would displace 12 structures, including three residential and seven businesses.

The project is not funded and a definitive construction timeline has not been determined, TxDOT representative Deidra George said. The project is located within Harris and Waller counties, and construction costs are estimated to be about $120 million. Construction start dates will be determined only if the project receives funding.

The existing FM 529 is a two-lane undivided roadway with one lane in each direction, 4-foot outside shoulders and open ditches within an approximate 120-foot right of way, according to TxDOT. The roadway has one signalized intersection at the Grand Parkway, and it has two four-way stop intersections at Katy Hockley Cut Off Road and Katy Hockley Road. Meanwhile, the FM 529 intersection with FM 362 is a two-way stop intersection. There are no existing sidewalks on FM 529 or the intersecting roadways, and the posted speed limit is 60 miles per hour.

Crash rates and traffic congestion

Crash rates on FM 529 from the years 2014 to 2017 were higher than the Texas annual averages, and the existing capacity is inadequate to meet projected traffic volumes in 2045, which would result in congestion, according to an evaluation by TxDOT.

The average daily traffic from the Grand Parkway to Katy Hockley Cut Off Road is at 15,800, which is approaching an unstable flow, according to TxDOT. By 2045, it is projected to reach capacity at 25,000. The daily count from Katy Hockley Cut Off Road to FM 362 is slightly lower at 8,000 and expected to be at a stable flow by 2045 at 12,600.

A local business owner located off FM 529 said at the April 30 meeting he has witnessed many accidents over the years, including one involving an elderly couple and another with a family with three children. He said he has collected videos of crashes into his business and put up a fence to try and prevent the crashes.

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