The new two-lane road, totaling $6.7 million, will include two 12-foot lanes with 3-foot shoulders on each side, Riley said, connecting Nichols Sawmill and Sanders Cemetery roads in the Magnolia area. Road construction was previously delayed due to permitting issues and wetland mitigation disputes between the county and the Army Corps of Engineers, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.
Riley said the only options to exit •south Magnolia have been through neighborhood roads—such as Glenmont Estates Boulevard and Turtle Creek Lane—or Roberts Cemetery Road, all of which have multiple sharp curves. This is why the county designed Grand Pines Drive with only one long S curve, he said, which will make driving in this area less dangerous.
“Anybody who’s been on Roberts Cemetery Road knows there’s probably about eight 90-degree curves, and it’s 18 feet wide. It’s just not made for that kind of traffic [that it is seeing],” he said.
Safety, flooding concerns
According to vehicle crash data received from TxDOT, a total of 47 crashes occurred on Nichols Sawmill, Sanders Cemetery and Roberts Cemetery roads and Glenmont Estates Boulevard from Jan. 1-Sept. 27 this year. Additionally, a total of 574 crashes occurred on the four roads from 2010-18, 26% of which were on Roberts Cemetery Road.
“The roads through Turtle Creek [subdivision] are not designed for the heavy traffic that is on it now,” said Ricky Burkhalter, a resident of the Clear Creek Forest neighborhood near Baneberry and Nichols Sawmill roads, in response to an Oct. 10 Community Impact Newspaper post on Nextdoor, a neighborhood social media site. “I’ll be using [the road].”
Montgomery County Precinct 5 Constable Chris Jones said there has been a large increase in traffic and crashes along Roberts Cemetery Road, Glenmont Estates Boulevard and Turtle Creek Lane, and his office has received more complaints in the last several years of drivers speeding through Glenmont Estates.
“These crashes and speeders are all people that are cutting through, either coming into Magnolia or trying to get out to Harris County,” Jones said. “I think Grand Pines [Drive] is going to alleviate that as well as the crashes and traffic on all of these county roads that were built to be subdivision roads, not cut-through highways.”
Part of the project also includes raising the approach to the Spring Creek bridge on the Montgomery County side, Riley said, which should reduce flooding on roads near Spring Creek as well as the bridge itself.
“The majority of the time whenever we do have flooding on Roberts Cemetery Road or Sanders Cemetery Road or even Decker Prairie Rosehill Road, it’s not the bridge itself that goes underwater. It’s the approaches on either side of the bridge that go underwater,” he said.
Riley said the county is building the infrastructure for the road in a way so the road can easily be expanded to four lanes in the future.
As Grand Pines Drive is the first new road in southwest Precinct 2 in more than a decade, Riley said he believes the road is long overdue.
“Anytime we can create a new road that is going to make it safer and more efficient for folks to get to and from where they’ve been trying to go for the last 40 years out here, of course I’m excited about that,” Riley said. “We’re [also] doing this to plan for all of the growth that’s coming this way too. We’re trying to plan for the future instead of trying to catch up.”