Montgomery County begins design work on Magnolia-area road projects

Construction work has begun on major local road projects included in the $280 million Montgomery County road bond following voter approval in November.

Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said county officials are meeting with engineering firms in February to finalize designs on four of the approved road improvement projects in the Magnolia area: Nichols Sawmill Road, Keenan Cutoff Road, Fish Creek Thoroughfare and Research Forest Drive.

Precinct 2 received $64 million for 19 road improvement projects from the bond package, including $1.38 million for three turn lanes at the Hwy. 242 and FM 1488 intersection and $2.62 million for other road rehabilitation, turn-lane and shoulder additions.

County roads are my No. 1 priority,” Riley said. “I want these county roads that people are trying to get up and down fixed so people can have some relief.”

Although the county plans to begin design and engineering work on all four projects at the same time, Riley said construction will likely start on the $9.7 million realignment of Nichols Sawmill Road and the $8 million expansion of Research Forest Drive from Egypt Lane to Kuykendahl Road first.

“[Those] are probably the quickest projects we [have] got,” he said. “If not all, some of these will be under construction by the end of the year. If we have to do a bunch of extra work, it could take longer.” 

Magnolia projects

Riley said once substantial work has begun on each of the four major road bond projects, the county will begin working on plans for the $49.9 million, 5.3-mile Magnolia Relief Route around the downtown area and the $17 million railroad overpass at the intersection of FM 1774 and FM 1488.

Preliminary plans for the relief route were presented to Magnolia residents during a Texas Department of Public Transportation public meeting Sept. 22.

“We had several comments from folks [after the meeting], and they’re still going through all [of them],” Riley said. “We’ve had a couple of meetings with property owners that want us to try and tweak the realignment, and TxDOT is looking at trying to do some of that right now. Probably within the next month we’ll be meeting again to talk about it.”

The FM 1774 overpass project is scheduled to be sent out for a construction bid in June, and work could begin this fall, according to TxDOT.

“[The overpass will] cut down on this congestion,” Riley said. “FM 1774 and FM 1488 is the worst intersection in Montgomery County as far as I’m concerned.”

Building transparency

On Jan. 12, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal’s office announced county staff is working to create a new website to track progress on road bond projects in all four precincts.

The new site will be an extension of the county’s existing web link, which will allow users to see various projects and locations. When the site is complete, users will be able to see progress reports on each project, Chief of Staff James Fredricks said.

Riley said his office will work with county staff to ensure Precinct 2 projects are updated on the website as often as possible.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “People need to know that we’re doing what we said we were going to do and we’re not sitting on this [money] and not doing anything.”

By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.