Construction on the alleyways in downtown Tomball—part of the city’s alley improvement project—is anticipated to begin in spring 2023, Tomball City Manager David Esquivel said in an interview.

The project was initially expected to begin in spring 2022, according to previous Community Impact reporting.

“When we started working on the [FM] 2920 widening project, those discussions—we didn’t want to affect the construction in the alleys in case that needed to tie in,” Esquivel said about the delay. “The other factor, too, is that staging for construction during festivals and things that are really going down downtown—we wanted to really pick out the best part of the year to be able to do that kind of construction.”

Assistant City Manager Jessica Rogers said the project will go out to bid in December, with the award anticipated for February or March.

“What we’re working on is trying to figure out what that schedule looks like with events,” Rogers said. “It may take a little bit longer overall, but we’re going to try and get pieces done ... so we’re not disrupting during a major event.”

City officials said the project bid encompasses the 100 blocks of downtown Tomball, which will be the first phase of the project.

“Our initial projections for the costs were about around $1 million for that phase of the project,” Esquivel said. “And so that’s what we are anticipating the funding is there for. We are putting together the bid to have flexibility depending on the prices, because pricing right now is so unpredictable.”

The money for Phase 1 of the project is coming from the city’s capital funds, and the Tomball Economic Development Corp. wants to participate in the funding of the project as well, Esquivel said.

“Over the past few years, we’ve been building up the fund to be able to do the project,” Esquivel said.

After construction is completed on the 100 blocks, construction will begin on the 200 blocks, with the project spanning from Elm to Pine streets, Esquivel said.

“This first phase of the project—the first block—it will really give us a good consensus about how to make [the rest of the construction] better for the rest of the blocks,” Esquivel said. “It’s going to be a learning experience.”

Rogers said both the city and the TEDC will be involved in the construction for the project.

“The city is taking care of the hardscape stuff—the utilities, the concrete, the asphalt work,” Rogers said. “The EDC is moving forward with a separate amenity package. So they have a landscape designer. So we’re coordinating with them in terms of what do we need to put in the ground as part of our project to enable them to do the amenities, which is the public art component, the landscaping component—those sorts of things are actually being handled by the EDC.”

Rogers said the construction period will be a little bit longer than six to eight weeks.

“Where it takes that extra time is the mobilizing and demobilizing during the events,” Rogers said. “So there’s some extra buffer time built into that.”

Downtown public bathrooms

Phase 1 of the alley project may also include the construction of several public restrooms as the city plans to add restrooms as an additive bid, Esquivel said. The only public restrooms are at the Historic Tomball Depot Plaza.

“The city owns a tract of land right next to Cisco’s [Salsa Co.] there on the corner of Cherry and Commerce [streets],” Esquivel said. “And there’s a lot of discussion about what we need to do with that piece.”

Esquivel said, initially, the plan was to put parking there or turn it into a pocket park.

“The merchants on the north side of [FM] 2920 reached out and said, ‘Look, the south side has the option to send folks to the Depot,’” Esquivel said. “They’ve requested something on the north side.”

Esquivel said the city provides public restrooms at all the city’s parks.

“It’s still considered [part of that model], because [the tract] is a little pocket park,” Esquivel said. “So the restrooms—it still follows that model.”