Houston-Galveston Area Council representatives presented to the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court Tuesday on the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan, anticipating significant population growth and mobility challenges in the next few decades.
HGAC is in the process of updating its long-range transportation plan for the region, said Alan Clark, HGAC’s director of transportation planning. The organization has scheduled several public meetings through March and April to discuss transportation needs.
Based on population growth projections, Fort Bend County may likely double in size by 2045, Clark said.
“We will not be able to double all the road infrastructure in this county in such a short period of time,” Clark said. “We’ll be very challenged to maintain what we have, operate it as effectively as possible and expand it wherever we can and then provide transportation alternatives that can help us move even more people and fewer vehicles.”
Increasing employment opportunities will accompany growth rates, said Vishu Lingala, HGAC’s principal transportation planner. The majority of the population growth is anticipated to take place outside of the Grand Parkway and Beltway 8 region.
“What this means is our trips that we see every day—commute flows—from outside of Grand Parkway into the Beltway 8 region are going to triple,” Lingala said.
In addition to addressing increased congestion and safety risks, the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan will also consider the effects of severe flooding, he said. Roads may be elevated or reconstructed to mitigate flooding.
“Based on the effects or the impacts Hurricane Harvey had on the region and Fort Bend County, the Texas Department of Transportation came up with candidate projects for flood mitigation for elevation in the future,” Lingala said.
Identified roads include portions of FM 723, Hwy. 90A, FM 1093, Hwy. 6 and Spur 10, he said. Total estimated cost for these projects is $535 million.
These projects will be TxDOT’s responsibility and state funded, County Judge Robert Hebert said. Upon completion, these roadways will allow access for evacuation and emergency response in case of high water events.
“[Regarding] FM 723, from the Brazos River to FM 359, is very desperately needed in the county,” Hebert said. “I have assurances from [TxDOT] that they will engage us in working out an elevation that will keep that road open during Havey-like events.”