The next call for projects to be submitted for the Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Improvement Program will be in September 2021, but The Woodlands Township board of directors has started to discuss what it might include in that request.

The call for projects takes place every four years. The regional initiative allows entities, such as governments and public transit authorities, to apply for consideration for funding in improving area infrastructure as part of a long-term transportation strategy. The last call for projects was held in 2018 for projects that would be pursued in 2019-2022.

In 2018, the township submitted a safe school access project on Kuykendahl Road, Panther Creek Drive and Research Drive, and a project for a College Park Drive shared-use path. Those were not approved for inclusion on the TIP in 2019, though Parks and Recreation Director Chris Nunes said they scored well.

Future projects The Woodlands Township puts forward for the TIP could include others that were developed as part of its pedestrian and bicycle master plan, officials said. The plan was adopted in 2016 and involved community input over the course of about a year, Nunes said.

Board Chair Gordy Bunch said the projects outlined in the plan are beyond the township’s capacity to fund and create by itself, and the township will rely on various partnerships and other programs to move the projects forward.

“A lot of these projects are well over our funding capabilities,” Bunch said. “We’re ready to build the 10-mile bike path in Spring Creek Greenway. ... We can’t build it unilaterally by ourselves because it’s a collaborative project with [Harris County Precinct 4].”

Bunch said events this year, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have delayed that process.

Nunes said the bike and pedestrian plan outlines projects beyond the township's funding capabilities, but they can be pursued through grants or other funding.

“The whole concept of the program was leveraging dollars with grant funding,” Nunes said. “Those grants that we’re looking at continually are HGAC, [the Texas Department of Transportation], Texas Parks and Wildlife and other funding agencies.”

Nunes said the township will prepare a proposal in early 2021 for the next call for projects.

In the meantime, there may be other ways the township can work to move some of its pedestrian and bike projects forward through other partnerships, he said.

For example, Nunes said, a pathway sidewalk program in the Hwy. 242 corridor from FM 1488 to I-45 could help address one need in the Harpers Landing area at minimal local expense if the township is able to work with the Texas Department of Transportation on connecting sidewalks.