U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Richmond, has let his district know that each congress member can submit up to 10 locally supported projects, according to the city of Pearland. The committee has $10 million-$15 million to fund the 10 projects, which translates to roughly $1 million-$1.5 million per project, Deputy City Manager Trent Epperson said at the meeting. Because of this, Pearland city staff recommended presenting only one project for potential funding.
The city recommended Smith Ranch Road widening as the project for a number of reasons. The project is most likely to receive funding if it is ready to start construction in the next year, if it is environmentally cleared and if it is already partially funded by the Transportation Improvement Program, which allocates federal funding to transportation projects every four years. The Smith Ranch Road project meets all criteria.
The project cost for the city has also gone up in the past few years, which is another incentive to look for other avenues of funding, Epperson said.
“The project was delayed through no fault of our own, and the land acquisition cost has risen dramatically,” he said.
The project was originally an 80-20 funding split, with the city paying for 20% of the construction, Epperson said. However, as the land costs increase and the timeline gets pushed back, the city looks like it may be on the hook for 40% to 50% of the funding costs, he said.
The project also had funding issues with the Texas Department of Transportation in the past as well. According to a February memo from the city of Pearland, TxDOT had to reallocate Texas Mobility Funds with Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds away from Smith Ranch Road to Hwy. 290 in 2019.
Council voted in favor of submitting the project to the committee.
“In the end, it’s found money. If it goes to Smith Ranch Road or Independence Park, then we could get over a million dollars just by passing a resolution,” Council Member Trent Perez said. “I don’t care where it goes as long as it comes to [Pearland] and goes to a project.”
Smith Ranch Road is expected to go to bid this fall with construction beginning in January 2022. The project is needed to improve mobility in the area, according to the city website. The project will widen Smith Ranch Road from Hughes Ranch Road to just north of Broadway Street. The scope includes upgrading the two-lane asphalt road to a four-lane concrete road with a curb and gutter system and an underground storm sewer system. It will also include a sidewalk on the west side of the road and landscaping, according to the city website.