A $70 million advanced funding agreement to start 30 mobility projects from past bonds was passed in a 4-1 vote by Fort Bend County commissioners March 14.

The agreement increased from its typical $50 million limit to account for the county’s front-end investment on the northbound segment of Grand Parkway frontage road construction—from Westheimer Parkway to Cinco Ranch Boulevard.

The Grand Parkway work is a collaborative effort to increase mobility along the thoroughfare by the county and the Texas Department of Transportation, who will manage the construction of this project.

County Auditor Ed Sturdivant said the investment will pay off hugely for the Fort Bend County, as collective construction along Grand Parkway will cost $900 million over the next three to five years.

Those works include both the segmented frontage road projects funded by the county and the main lanes widening project funded by TxDOT, as Community Impact previously reported. The entirety of frontage road construction will span from Highland Knolls Drive to the north and FM 1093 to the south on either side of the Grand Parkway, an area within Precinct 1.

“Our contribution to that is going to be in the $80 [million] to $90 million range,” Sturdivant said. “So the county is getting a great result with that investment because it's

not all coming from property taxes assessed by Fort Bend County.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales said this work to ease "bottleneck" congestion is long overdue.

“It is not only a burden on our constituents, but it's also a burden on the county by having this congestion,” Morales said. “It is creating a shortfall in tax revenue because people are avoiding this area.”

Morales said his office has already collected a list of priority projects from the cities within his precinct and delivered them to the engineers’ office in preparation for a potential mobility and parks bond. The other three precincts must follow suit before the August deadline, when commissioners will decide whether or not to put the new bond on the ballot in November.

Although the $70 million advanced funding agreement was dedicated to starting 30 mobility projects, Sturdivant said this does not mean the projects will be completed with those funds due to debt accrual restraints enacted by the county.

“We normally just ask [the court] to let us use general fund reserves up to the max,” Sturdivant said. “But we know if we did that, it would prevent other opportunities for the court to ... spend on other capital initiatives from the reserve—if we gobbled all of that up with mobility.”

Even with this action, funding for more than 80 projects from the past three bonds remain authorized but unissued, Sturdivant said.