Five Greater Houston-area county judges converge at TAG-Houston talk to discuss mobility, road bonds

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, right, and four other Greater Houston area county judges talked about mobility issues at a TAG-Houston luncheon Jan. 24. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, right, and four other Greater Houston area county judges talked about mobility issues at a TAG-Houston luncheon Jan. 24. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, right, and four other Greater Houston area county judges talked about mobility issues at a TAG-Houston luncheon Jan. 24. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)

Five county judges in the Greater Houston area—for Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Brazoria and Waller counties—converged Jan. 24 to talk about local mobility issues, highlighting concerns ranging from the need for local control of projects to the pressures of a growing population and the possible need for road bonds in several counties.

The annual Our Region in Motion of the Transportation Advocacy Group-Houston Region was held at the Houstonian Hotel on North Post Oak Lane in Houston.

TAG-Houston advocates for funding the area’s transportation needs, and it has identified a minimum of $61 billion in transportation needs across the Greater Houston area. Funding needs identified by the group include $42 billion for high-capacity transit corridors, $19.5 billion for highway projects that do not currently have funding and $1.3 billion for freight projects.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said advance planning is key to managing transportation in the region.

"When we build transportation it’s not something for the next 10 years; it’s for the next 40 years,” Hidalgo said. “Transportation is literally planning for the next generation, and we need investment from all levels to match that kind of importance.”


Hidaldo said one of the main reasons she has heard that people leave the region is due to transportation costs.

She also said at the luncheon that she has heard local industry leaders say creating “livable” communities is important to attract the most promising young employees.

“They are used to living in a community where they can walk,” she said.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said state involvement is needed to fund projects.

“The state is operating under the assumption that we’re automatically going into this brave new world, and I can tell you there are a lot of people who are not going to go into it easily. We are a car town and a car state.”

Keough also said it is important for the region to use the money it does get from the state to show it is able to distribute the resources it receives in a timely and efficient manner.

Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said local control will be important for his county.

“Local control is the only way you’re going to have successful transportation projects,” Trey Duhon said.

Duhon said although his county lacks high revenue, a large portion of it is devoted to transportation. Waller County has a countywide mobility program but could need to look to a road bond, he said.

"Is there a road bond in our future? Absolutely. But you need a plan for that money," Duhon said.

For Montgomery County, Keough said a road bond is in the future, though he could not speculate on a timeline.

“Nothing off the table, this is so crucial for our county. ... We are growing so fast.”

Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebasta said growth has been a key issue for all counties, but each one has unique issues and challenges.

“We have a great working relationship with TxDOT,” Sebasta said. “We’re going to rework our little mass transit system that we have ... [but] our problems our issues are a little different than other counties.”

Fort Bend County Judge KP George said with the Greater Houston area's population increasing annually the issue of mobility will continue to remain central to the region's concerns.

“Quality mobility means quality of life,” George said. “We need to address this and ... we are close to getting 25% of the state population in this region.”
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


MOST RECENT

Tomball ISD board members unanimously approved the decision at a Jan. 12 board meeting. (Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)
Tomball ISD board approves extended sick leave for district employees for COVID-19

The approval comes after certain sick leave benefits provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired Dec. 31, 2020.

The estimated number of active COVID-19 cases in Harris County has surpassed 50,000, reaching 51,362 as of the most recent data Jan. 20, according to the Harris County Public Health Department. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Active cases top 50,000

See the latest trends on COVID-19 in Harris County.

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District regulates groundwater usage in Montgomery County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
New groundwater rules set to abolish previous pumping restrictions in areas including The Woodlands

The entity that regulates groundwater usage in Montgomery County adopted new rules that went into effect in September, and it will set a desired future condition, or DFC, for the local aquifer system in May.

Kairy-tate Barkley is owner and founder of French Cuff Boutique. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper
French Cuff Boutique brings personal styling to The Woodlands customers

Owner Kairy-tate Barkley said she developed the store based on her lifelong appreciation of fashion after she spent years working in the corporate world.

The Conroe ISD board of trustees met Jan. 19 for its regular monthly meeting. (Screenshot via Conroe ISD YouTube)
Conroe ISD board approves Caney Creek attendance boundary changes, 2021-22 calendar

Board members also approved spending for 20 replacement school buses and annual safety and security projects.




Courtesy Baja Sur Fresh-Mex and Tequila Bar
40 restaurants that opened in 2020 or are coming in 2021 in The Woodlands area

Restaurants that opened in The Woodlands area in 2020 include locations that offer a variety of cuisines from casual to fine dining.

In addition to vaccine hubs, there are also smaller community vaccine providers throughout Texas, such as pharmacies, that may also have the vaccine available. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
EXPLAINED: When, where and how Texans can receive the COVID-19 vaccine

As Texas is still in the early stages of rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine, many Texans are still unsure about, where, when and how they can get inoculated.

The barbecue eatery is the second Killen's Restaurant Group venture to launch in The Woodlands area. (Courtesy Killen's Barbecue)
Killen's Barbecue opens in The Woodlands and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Magnolia ISD board members approved additional paid sick leave and a $500 bonus payment to district employees in a Jan. 19 board meeting. (Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)
Magnolia ISD staff to receive $500 COVID-19 bonus, additional paid sick leave

Magnolia ISD employees will receive additional paid sick leave and a one-time $500 bonus due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Montgomery County continues to see new daily highs in active COVID-19 case counts as hospitalizations rise. (Community Impact staff)
Montgomery County COVID-19 total case count increases to over 34,000; active case count decreases by 1,500

The total COVID-19 case count across Montgomery County has surpassed 34,000.

Zanti offers its take on carbonara pasta. ($16) (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Zanti Cucina Italiana brings authentic Italian taste to The Woodlands area in a casual environment

After taking about 2 1/2 years to select a location and design a concept, Santiago Pelaez opened Zanti Cucina Italiana to bring authentic Italian cuisine to The Woodlands area in June 2019 on Research Forest Drive.