The H-GAC’s call for TIP projects allows local governments and other eligible project sponsors within the entity’s eight-county jurisdiction to submit proposals to implement transportation projects, which may be approved for federal and state funding from the H-GAC. The application period for the 2018 call will open July 30 and close at 5 p.m. on Sept. 28. Montgomery County commissioners, the Woodlands Road Utility District No. 1 and other local governments are all working on proposals for the TIP.
During a Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting June 26, the commissioners discussed what steps needed to be taken for Montgomery County to have a chance at receiving funding from H-GAC for transportation projects.
“Other counties will present a unified list of TIP projects that have been prioritized through the court, and that will help move it through the process,” Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said. “So we need to be discussing what the [submitted] TIP projects will be for the county.”
According to H-GAC, $1.2 billion funds will be available for the 2018 TIP, not including $323 million reserved for programs, such as Vanpool, TranStar, Commute Solutions and Clean Vehicles, and $600 million-$700 million reserved for future projects.
One-third of the funds will be available over the next five years, while the remaining two-thirds will become available from 2023-28.
To be eligible for H-GAC TIP funding, the money requested must be at least $500,000.
Projects with a proposed capital investment of $100 million or more must support all of H-GAC’s Regional Transportation Plan goals, which include safety, congestion relief, state of good repair, economic competitiveness and accessibility to natural/cultural resources. Projects with a proposed capital investment of less than $100 million must fall within one of the investment categories of the 2018 call, which include managing, maintaining or expanding existing roadways.
Montgomery County Engineer Mark Mooney said working with the Texas Department of Transportation and hiring a consultant would streamline the process.
“We need to have a workshop and have TxDOT describe this whole process so … we’re all on the same page as to what they’re looking to do with that escrow account in conjunction with our approval,” Mooney said. “If there is a bank of projects that we’re looking at it, makes sense to me to get a single consultant to unify that process.”
Although the list of projects to be submitted by the county for the 2018 call for TIP had not yet been finalized as of press time, one of the projects local officials hope to submit is the proposed underpass at Research Forest Drive and Grogans Mill Road.
With 77 vehicle crashes occurring between 2012-15, the intersection was cited as the most dangerous intersection in H-GAC’s 2015 South Montgomery County Mobility Study. The study also labeled Research Forest Drive as an “over-capacity” corridor, with a 24-hour traffic count of 38,059 vehicles in 2013.
An underpass was proposed as a solution in May, which the Shenandoah City Council unanimously approved a resolution of support for May 23.
“This is a perfect example of how well multiple jurisdictions can work together to solve a regional problem,” Mayor Ritch Wheeler said. “The intersection is located wholly within the township. However, most of the traffic passing through this intersection is either coming from or going to Shenandoah. For that reason... Shenandoah [was given] a seat at the table.”
Precinct 3 spokesperson Andy DuBois said the project is under conceptual development by Shenandoah, WRUD No. 1, H-GAC and Precinct 3. The preliminary design would include an underpass on Research Forest Drive underneath Grogans Mill Road while keeping the existing grade-level lanes to negate any future flooding concerns.
A construction timeline and cost for the project have not yet been identified as of press time.