Propelled by the passage of a $700 million road bond referendum in November, Harris County has outlined its initial investment of bond funds toward transportation infrastructure projects.
Harris County Precinct 4 has prioritized north-south roadways that connect to the Grand Parkway with its first wave of bond funds. The expansion projects have reached the study phase of Harris County’s capital improvement process.
The improvements will be among the first Precinct 4 projects funded through the November bond, said Pamela Rocchi, director of the Harris County Precinct 4 Capital Improvement Projects Division.
“Precinct 4 would not be able to continue the capital improvement program if voters had not approved the 2015 bond referendum, [which] will provide a revenue stream to support the proposed project development needs,” Rocchi said.
One of four bond proposals approved by voters in November, the $700 million mobility fund bond package will help the county accommodate an anticipated rapid population growth over the next 15 years, Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle said.
Precinct 4, which includes the Village of Creekside Park, will receive 30 percent of the transportation funding based on the county’s current formula and precinct boundaries, Harris County Budget Officer Bill Jackson said. The precincts are redrawn every 10 years.
“What we can do is to do our best to try to keep up with [population growth],” Cagle said. “And then hopefully, over time, as the area matures and stabilizes, then we’ll be able to catch up and to continue under the good service that everyone expects.”
Gosling and Hufsmith- Kohrville roads allow drivers to travel from Spring to The Woodlands and Tomball, respectively. Cagle said these roads are critical north-south thoroughfares that pass under segments F-1 and F-2 of the Grand Parkway—a 24-mile east-west stretch of tollway between Hwy. 290 to I-45 that opened in February.
“I view the county as having rims and spokes in terms of getting around [east and west] and getting around [north and south],” Cagle said. “The Grand Parkway coming through and some of the improvements that we’re making on Spring Cypress and Louetta roads all are sort of rim projects, and the Grand Parkway, in particular, is an important rim project.”
Gosling Road segments 2 and 3, which will expand the thoroughfare from two to four or five lanes between West Mossy Oaks Road and Creekside Forest Drive, are in the study phase.
Next, county engineers will design the road and purchase necessary rights of way before construction begins. Construction costs are estimated at $20 million to complete Gosling Road segments 2 and 3 and Hufsmith-Kohrville Road segments 2-4.
The expansion of the north-south thoroughfares in the area will provide relief to I-45, which is heavily congested at peak times, and provides more travel options to the area, said Paula Lenz, executive director of the North Houston Association, an economic development organization in Northwest Houston.
“Having additional north-south roadways takes strain and traffic off I-45,” Lenz said.
These projects follow the extension of other north-south thoroughfares near the Grand Parkway with funds from previous road bonds.
The county completed an extension of Holzwarth from Spring Stuebner roads into master-planned community Springwoods Village in late 2014. Construction is also expected to begin in the first quarter of 2016 on the widening of Aldine Westfield Road between Louetta and Riley Fuzzel roads.
The county plans to create an additional Gosling Road bridge over Spring Creek, expanding the road from two to four lanes. The $7 million project could be funded with bond money, Rocchi said. The referendum will help fund mobility projects throughout Precinct 4 over the next seven to 10 years and could provide money to a number of future projects being considered by county officials.
“I’m like the dad with a dozen kids trying to decide which child needs a new pair of shoes the most,” Cagle said. “I love all of the communities, and I’m very carefully weighing those decisions on which one of the children should get the new shoes.”