Toll road brings growth, sparking rural resident concern

pasture with text
Pieces of pasture in Manvel are being sold as owners move away from the growth. (Photo by Haley Morrison, Designed by Elyssa Turner)

Pieces of pasture in Manvel are being sold as owners move away from the growth. (Photo by Haley Morrison, Designed by Elyssa Turner)

Image description
Here is a look at population in Brazoria County over the last 10 years. (Designed by Elyssa Turner)
Image description
Here is a look at population growth in Alvin, Iowa Colony and Manvel. (Designed by Elyssa Turner)
Image description
Take a look as master-planned communities coming to the area. (Designed by Elyssa Turner)
Image description
As construction continues on the toll road and FM 518, here are things to know about each project. (Designed by Elyssa Turner)
The Brazoria County Expressway is anticipated to alleviate traffic when it opens next year. For commuters, this is a welcome change. But many who live in rural areas are not looking forward to the new development the new toll road is expected to bring.

“I’m not a fan. We’re already growing too fast,” Manvel resident Mike Kelley said.

The new toll road is expected to bring both residential and commercial development. As a result, more residents will be moving in, and subdivisions will be built in areas that are grassy and untouched for now.

“We came here to get away from the people,” Kelley said.

Resident resistance

Kelley moved away from a populated city to Del Bello Spur in Manvel five or six years ago to enjoy living in the country. He said he appreciates the quiet and the nature as well as the space his miniature Australian Shepherds have to run around. Once the development comes to the area, that could all change.

“Not even the police come down this road. Everybody takes care of everybody out here,” he said.

The street he lives on is small, and all of the neighbors along the road know each other, Kelley said. In fact, Kelley’s neighbor, who has had his home and land for 37 years, has sold his home and his land, which he had been using for pasture. The neighbor does not want to live next to the new master-planned subdivision that is going to be built next to his home, Kelley said.

The city of Manvel is in the process of building new planned residential communities. One of the new subdivisions is Del Bello Lakes, which broke ground in October.

Even without the toll road’s completion, residential development is already beginning in the area. Once the project was announced, developers began to buy land along Hwy. 288, Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta said.

Kelley lives near Del Bello Spur, which is a dead-end road. However, the city of Manvel is in the process of widening Del Bello Road, which will provide access to Manvel’s city center and eventually connect with Hwy. 288, Kelley said. While Kelley will likely not lose any of his yard space when the road is widened, he plans to move once the road is built due to the traffic he suspects it will bring. Already, Kelley is a mile away from the Hwy. 288.

“They’re going to put a four-lane road with a median on what is a dead-end road,” Kelley said.

Meanwhile, those in the northern part of the county are excited about the new toll road, Brazoria County Commissioner Ryan Cade said.

“Our constituents in the north end of the county have paid very close attention to this project. Many work in and around downtown Houston, and this is a major quality-of-life improvement for them,” Cade said.

Cade is the commissioner for Precinct 2, which encompasses a portion of the Hwy. 288 corridor. The residents in the northern part of his precinct are in Pearland, which arguably feels the brunt of the construction due to the Hwy. 288 construction as well as the related construction on FM 518.

Gloria Cloudt, another Manvel resident who has lived in the area all her life, said she is not looking forward to the growth the new toll road will bring, which she said is more than she has ever seen in the area.

“It is what it is,” she said. “You can’t stop progress.”

New development

While the toll road ends at Croix Road, the ease of access it is expected to bring has spurred growth to the south as well. Even without the completed toll road, the city of Manvel continues to grow. In 2018, the city’s population is estimated to have more than doubled since 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city grew from 5,284 residents to 11,535 residents in that time.

Likewise, Iowa Colony, the small town south of Manvel along Hwy. 288 is also growing quickly. Iowa Colony grew from 1,166 residents to 1,896 residents in 2018, or by 63% in the same time period.

The population continues to grow throughout the rest of the county as well, even in parts more rural than suburban Pearland.

The growth of the county is due largely to the school systems and the industry, Sebesta said.

“We have a great economy, great schools, lots of workplace opportunities. It makes Brazoria County a very desired place for people to want to locate,” Sebesta said.

Over the last 10 years, the county’s population has increased by 17 percent, with Pearland and Manvel’s growth likely responsible for a large part of the growth.

Debbie Burr, a Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, has been selling in the south Houston area for five years and has seen an influx of people coming and going in the area, particularly around Manvel and Alvin, where new residential communities are cropping up.

Burr said she often sees dual-income families with one member working in downtown Houston and one in southern Brazoria County, so the area offers a good halfway point as well as easy access to Hwy. 288.

However, as people are using Hwy. 288 to commute both north and south, Burr sees both directions flooded with congestion during peak hours, she said.

Originally slated to be completed this summer, both the Brazoria County and Harris County portions of the toll road have been pushed back. The Brazoria County portion of the road, which runs from Croix Road to Clear Creek, or the Brazoria-Harris County line, is slated to be completed by mid-January. The work on FM 518, which includes working on the Hwy. 288 overpasses, is expected to be completed this year.

The toll road cannot open to drivers until the Harris County portion is completed, Brazoria County engineer Matt Hanks said. As the Harris County toll road may open in sections before next summer, sections of the Brazoria County Expressway could open for drivers as well.

“[Residents] are sick and tired of seeing construction barrels but I think most people realize the fruits of what is coming. It is going to really cut down on their time in traffic,” Sebesta said.

Business growth

As the residential communities in the area open up, they will bring business development and work opportunities along with them, Burr said.

While Burr has seen more people flock to the area over the five years she has worked in south Houston, she expects even more will come once the toll road is open.

“The toll road is a definite need,” she said.

The toll road is needed for those who work in the Texas Medical Center, as a large portion of employees come from the south Houston area, particularly Pearland. The road is expected to have exits directly in and out of the Medical Center, alleviating the traffic for those commuters.

The area has also seen new workplace development, as well as shopping centers and will continue to once the toll road opens, Cade said.

“We feel certain both residential and commercial growth will occur as a result of the improved mobility the toll road will provide for current and future residents,” Cade said.
By Haley Morrison

Haley Morrison came to Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after graduating from Baylor University. She was promoted to editor in February 2019. Haley primarily covers city government.


Friendswood City Council held a meeting on April 6. (Community Impact Staff)
Friendswood City Council discusses city's coronavirus response at meeting

The city has enacted the use of personal protection equipment, or PPEs, for all first responders including the fire department, EMS and police officers.

Friendswood is continuing work on Blackhawk Boulevard. (Haley Morrison/Community Impact Newspaper)
Blackhawk Blvd construction & 2 more Friendswood transportation projects to follow

Here are three transportation projects to keep an eye on.

Houston fiscal year 2020-21 budget workshops run from April 7 through May 20. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County launches Small Business Economic Assistance Loan Program, begins process of creating COVID-19 relief fund

In partnership with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Harris County launched a $10 million Small Business Economic Assistance Loan Program on April 7 to help small businesses on the road to recovery.

Courtesy Adobe Stock
UPDATED: Restaurants in Pearland and Friendswood that are offering delivery, to-go or curbside services

With people practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, some local restaurants are offering delivery, to-go and curbside services.

Here are restaurants in Pearland and Friendswood offering takeout, curbside and delivery options. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
UPDATED: Restaurants in Pearland and Friendswood offering delivery, to-go or curbside services

Here are restaurants that have changed the way they do business amid coronavirus concerns.

Live music acts such as Houston-based band The Tontons have been wiped off venue schedules amid the coronavirus outbreak. Local musicians are now eligible to apply for monetary support from the newly formed Houston Music Foundation. (Courtesy Mark C. Austin)
Newly formed Houston Music Foundation offers relief to out-of-work musicians

The fund hopes to start cutting checks as early as this week.

A temporary medical shelter is being constructed outside NRG Stadium to help house patients if area hospitals run out of capacity while treating COVID-19 cases. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
ROUNDUP: South Houston coronavirus coverage continues

Here are some notable updates from South Houston on the outbreak of coronavirus that readers may have missed.

Sheldon State Park, along with other state parks across Texas, will temporarily close at 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)
State parks, historic sites in the Greater Houston area close under Gov. Greg Abbott's order

Gov. Greg Abbott announced via a news release April 7 that state parks and historic sites should be temporarily closed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Abbott's order closes all state parks and historical sites effective 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Abbott closes state parks, historical sites due to coronavirus concerns

Abbott said the closure is to help prevent large gatherings and strengthen social distancing.

VIDEO: Texas Tribune interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar about the coronavirus's effects on the state economy

At 8 a.m. April 7, The Texas Tribune will host a live interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, conducted by Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey.

Hurricane Harvey brought historic flooding to Pearland, Friendswood and Brookside Village, as documented by residents of the area.
Texas General Land Office approves Harvey funds for home buyouts in Pearland

The $2.73 million is a part of the $413 million allocated by the General Land Office for infrastructure projects to protect communities across Texas that were affected by the storm.