A project to extend David Memorial Drive to Hwy. 242 that has been in the planning stages for about four years is still short on funds, but residents in The Woodlands area are asking the city of Conroe to commit up to $2 million for the improvement designed to reduce traffic in the region.

More than 100 residents in the Harper’s Preserve community south of Hwy. 242 and east of I-45, which is not a part of The Woodlands Township, have signed a petition directed to the Conroe City Council to secure funding for the extension. The neighborhood is part of unincorporated Montgomery County.

Addressed to the Conroe City Council on July 9, the petition states area residents wish to see funds committed to the project, which will extend the road to connect with Hwy. 242 to ease traffic congestion in the I-45 area.

Among the Harper’s Preserve residents who signed the petition, Carla Gomez said while the road is a small tract of land, its completion could bring about positive changes for drivers.

“It can positively impact anybody that drives east on [Hwy.] 242 from I-45 north,” Gomez said. “This translates into safety and convenience for all travelers, not just Harper’s Preserve residents.”

Gomez said the heavy traffic at the intersection of Hwy. 242 and I-45 creates issues for those commuting to the area, particularly during rush hours.

“I made a mapped travel to a business on Sawdust [Road]. My travel time was 13 minutes,” Gomez said. “When I made the same map during a rush hour time, the time was 47 minutes. That shows the amount of congestion we experience during peak times.”

Gomez said the residents filed their petition with the city of Conroe to commit the funding because Shenandoah and Montgomery County had already shown support for the project.“

We actually had a positive response from [Conroe] City Councilwoman Marsha Porter,” Gomez said. “I feel this is a discussion that has been taking place for some time now, and up until recently it has seemed unproductive.”

Gomez said she believes for changes such as the proposed work to happen, it is crucial for residents to speak out.

Planning on the David Memorial extension began between 2017 and 2018. According to John Bleyl, president and CEO of contractor Bleyl Engineering, planning for the project is around 90% complete with permits required by the Army Corps of Engineers anticipated to be completed within the next 90 days as of late July.

“We have been in touch with the project managers,” Bleyl said. “Things have been going well lately, and we are confident we will get approval to move forward.”

Bleyl noted funding for the project has been slow, but he said he is optimistic it will be fully funded by the time construction is anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2022. Funding for the expansion could come from three sources: the city of Shenandoah, the city of Conroe and Montgomery County; the project passes through all three entities. Bleyl said the amount anticipated to come from Conroe is estimated at around $2 million.

Previous reporting from Community Impact Newspaper states Harper’s Preserve has a longstanding annexation agreement with the city of Conroe to eventually be included within its limits. City Administrator Paul Virgadamo said the contribution from Conroe for the David Memorial project could be $1.7 million to $2 million.

“I think there is some support to try and get some funding for this particular project,” he said. “It’s not in the budget right now. ... [The] project is still a couple of years off because of environmental design.”

Porter said the city of Conroe could consider the item in its budget talks in August. As of press time Aug. 13 the item was not on the agenda.

“It’s been put on the budget for consideration,” Porter said. “I certainly feel like it needs to be done, and it’s long overdue.”