John Bleyl, president and CEO of contractors Bleyl Engineering, said the project has been challenging due to the number of entities involved, but he said all of them believe it is important to extend the road to connect with Hwy. 242.
Project partners include the city of Shenandoah, the city of Conroe, Montgomery County and Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital as it passes through their boundaries, and the goal is to provide an alternate route to access the highway and ease the burden currently placed on the feeders in the area, he said.
“There are environmental issues, multiple entities involved and funding, but we are on track,” Bleyl said.
Shenandoah City Administrator Kathie Reyer said all traffic from businesses east of I-45 between Research Forest Drive and Hwy. 242 is currently pushed onto the service road.
“This causes congestion and makes it difficult to access those businesses, and it often interferes with the passage of emergency vehicles,” Reyer said. “We look forward to David Memorial Drive improving this situation as well.”
Reyer added heavy rain is also known to flood the Hwy. 242 and I-45 intersection, which limits access to Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital.Reyer said when the project is completed, it will also serve the MetroPark Square area off I-45 and open the area up for future development. She said the road will benefit Conroe ISD schools and residential areas that are located off Hwy. 242 and will move traffic from the stadium and natatorium more efficiently.
As of late March, Bleyl said the project was awaiting the approval of two Army Corps of Engineers permits that were in public hearings and are needed for construction to begin. Bleyl said he expects the permits to be approved before September this year.According to Bleyl, planning for the project began in 2017-18.
The City of Shenandoah is the sponsor of the project, with $2 million in funding coming from the Montgomery County bond election.
Bleyl added there have been no significant delays to the project so far, but the number of moving parts have made the process rather slow.
“We have had to get the street right of way. ... Houston Methodist has agreed to dedicate right of way as their contribution to the project, but that has not happened yet because they want to wait until construction starts,” Bleyl said. “Permits with the [Army] Corps of Engineers takes three years or so to get, so that is not unusual.”
Bleyl added the project is still underfunded as a whole, but he is optimistic the issue will be addressed around October when new fiscal year budgets are set.
“We have been working diligently since then,” Bleyl said. “We are getting close to the finish line, so that is the good news. Everybody sees the importance of the project, and they have all be great to work with.”
Once construction begins on the project, Bleyl estimated it will take around a year to complete. Reyer said the city is eagerly awaiting the project’s completion.
Editor's note: This story was updated to include a clarification that the funding source for the project. It is from the Montgomery County bond election, not the City of Shenandoah.