In an effort to address traffic congestion issues, Montgomery County commissioners sent $58 million in project requests to the Texas Department of Transportation in December.

The list included $19.57 million in Precinct 3 to address issues east of I-45. The efforts include expanding lanes at Hardy Toll Road and the Grand Parkway, and adding new on- and off-ramps on the Grand Parkway in the area of Rayford Road and Birnham Woods Drive to provide additional capacity.

The requests were part of a call for projects by the Houston-Galveston Area Council for the 2023-26 Transportation Improvement Project list. Collected every four years, it uses federal and state funding for larger priority projects and provides an opportunity for county officials to get more expensive projects funded by TxDOT, county officials said.

What's happening?

Following the end-of-year review by the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on Dec. 19, a list of projects was sent by the county to the Texas Department of Transportation through the H-GAC to be considered for construction.

In south Montgomery County, two major projects are expected to go under construction within the next year with additional small projects aimed at improving mobility east of I-45. The design will be funded through pass-through toll financing, a mechanism that allows counties to use toll funds collected through the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority toward local road improvement projects, county officials said.

A total of 12 projects were compiled by Montgomery County commissioners from each precinct, with Precinct 3 having the largest funding request for $19.57 million out of $58 million in total requests. Some of the projects submitted within Precinct 3 include:
  • Improved on- and off-ramps from I-45 to Hardy Toll Road
  • An additional frontage lane on Grand Parkway at Rayford Road
  • Lane improvements at Rayford Road and Grand Parkway
Originally, Precinct 3’s request only included major projects, such as future I-45 reconstruction. However, after discussion with TxDOT and Commissioners Court, the list was amended to focus on more local mobility projects. Consulting firm WSB was brought in to study the additional improvements on the Grand Parkway. The $19.57 million requested for south Montgomery County will help fund the following steps:
  • Environmental assessment
  • Surveying
  • Right-of-way mapping and acquisition
  • Design plans and specifications
  • Construction
The impact

Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said congestion along the Grand Parkway and incoming development east of I-45 was the driving force behind requesting relief to the area now rather than later.

“Completed and future residential and commercial developments along the Grand Parkway in the vicinity of Rayford Road and Birnham Woods Drive are creating a higher traffic demand than those existing frontage road lanes will be able to handle,” Noack said.

According to traffic data from TxDOT, the intersections along Grand Parkway between Rayford Road and Birnham Woods Drive have experienced heavier traffic flow year over year. At the Birnham Woods Drive intersection north of the Grand Parkway, TxDOT’s annual average daily traffic counts increased from 5,000 to over 18,000 from 2011 to 2021.

At Rayford Road, average daily traffic counts north of the Grand Parkway over the last decade have more than doubled from 13,070 in 2011 to 28,746 in 2021, TxDOT data shows.
How we got here

Precinct 3’s $19.57 million funding request will allow the county to address some of the major thoroughfares in south Montgomery County without the need for a road bond issue.
What they're saying

“The developments ... around Rayford and Birnham Woods have exceeded the capacity of that eastbound frontage road,” said David Balmos, vice president of consulting firm WSB, which was hired by the county.

“The proposed lane additions along the eastbound frontage road will provide better mobility and safety for residents in those areas," said James Noack, Montgomery County Precinct 3 commissioner.

What's next

Projects will be assigned priority levels by the state. Once approved by TxDOT, funding will be distributed for preliminary work, county officials said.

If approved, the county will receive funds from TxDOT to begin bidding design and construction. Starting dates depend on approval of pass-through toll funding use, TxDOT officials said.

If funding is denied, the county will revisit options. County efforts have shifted to focus on getting pass-through toll funding instead of a bond.

Projects underway requested through H-GAC include $5 million in improvements to the intersection of I-45 with Tamina Road and Research Forest Drive such as lane widening and adding turn lanes.