FM 1488 widening west of Magnolia to begin in early 2021

Construction on a Texas Department of Transportation project to widen FM 1488 from west of the city to FM 1774 in Magnolia is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2021, TxDOT officials said. While the project is meant to alleviate traffic congestion through the city, local leaders said they recognize the two-year project will pose challenges to business along the roadway.

“We’ve got more cars, more people out here and more people driving, so obviously, the expansion of the road to get those trying to go through Magnolia ... quicker will alleviate issues of traveling within the city,” Mayor Todd Kana said. “There’ll be a few growing pains as we get there but I think it’ll be definitely best, in the long run, to alleviate some of the traffic issues in town.”

The $29.8 million project includes plans to widen FM 1488 from two to four lanes with a continuous left-turn lane beginning near the Waller County line at Joseph Road and extending almost four miles to FM 1774 through the west side of Magnolia. TxDOT spokesperson Emily Black said the project is projected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023.

While the effort will be completely funded by the state, Magnolia City Administrator Don Doering said the city is still expected to contribute more than $1 million in construction and engineering costs to relocate utilities along the project limits.

Kana said utilities will be relocated through a contractor to existing easements owned by TxDOT.

“We have our utilities in [TxDOT]’s easements, and they will not build a new road over our pipes,” Kana said. “So, anytime we utilize their easements for our utilities, when they expand, we have to relocate those utilities prior to the expansion.”

As FM 1488 is a major crossing point from I-45 to Hwy. 290, according to Precinct 5 Constable Chris Jones, widening the road is a necessary response to recent growth in this area of Montgomery County.

"We have a lot of subdivisions slated to be built out [in Magnolia],” Jones said. “The growth is something that I feel like we’re actually trying to get ahead of right now, instead of [trying to react] to.”

TxDOT data shows average daily traffic along FM 1488 at FM 1774 increased by 30.87% from 2015-19.

“It’s got to be that there are so many people headed this direction, and it is going to be all of the wide-open spaces out north and northwest of Magnolia that [are] getting ready to go under development,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said. “Anything that you can do to help try to get some of this traffic through Magnolia is going to be a plus.”

Business challenges

Sandy Barton, president of the Greater Magnolia Parkway Chamber of Commerce, said the incoming construction has raised concerns among Magnolia business owners.

Slated to begin early next year, the project is the first part of a larger project to widen FM 1488 through the eastern city limits and beyond, which would extend construction up close to many of the city’s local businesses east of the railroad tracks. However, there is no current timeline set to widen FM 1488 from FM 1774 to west of FM 149, as this second portion of the project is still in the design phase, according to Black.

“Widening those lanes and providing a dedicated turn lane ... will provide some relief to getting traffic moved through Magnolia a little more quickly,” Barton said. “There’s a definite benefit; it’s just that we hope that we don’t lose any businesses from the impact that the road’s construction is going to create.”

Barton said some business owners have prepared to lose frontage due to the upcoming project, which, in some cases, has affected parking space near the properties.

In addition to the loss of frontage, Barton said business owners are also concerned with how the projected two-year construction will affect business in the long term.

“Once the construction starts, the biggest impact is going to be access and the fact that it is already difficult at times to come through the Magnolia community because of traffic backups,” Barton said. “We’ve seen a number of businesses go out of business because customers have a tendency to avoid those construction areas. ... Extreme delays for any small-business owner is a potential significant impact to their ability to stay financially viable.”


Montgomery County's active COVID-19 case count was 1,692 as of April 9. (Community Impact staff)
Montgomery County active COVID-19 case count drops below 1,700 as of April 9

The active COVID-19 case count in Montgomery County is the lowest it has been since October.

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Series shot in Montgomery County aiming for Hulu, Netflix deal and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Construction on Creekside Court, a KB Home community, is underway in Magnolia on Carraway Lane near FM 2978. (Courtesy KB Home)
97-homesite Creekside Court under construction at Carraway Lane, FM 2978

Construction on Creekside Court, a KB Home community, is underway in Magnolia on Carraway Lane near FM 2978.

Mental health services have seen an increased demand through 2020 and early 2021. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Tri-County Behavioral Healthcare director speaks on increased demands from pandemic

Evan Roberson spoke on the demand for mental health services as well as what his organization has seen over the past year.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
DMV officials say no grace period following waiver of car title, registration; new housing set for Magnolia, Cypress

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Montgomery County ESD No. 10 meetings are held at Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department Station No. 181, located at 18215 Buddy Riley Blvd., Magnolia. (Kara McIntyre/Community Impact Newspaper)
‘Our hiring practice was thin at best’: Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department to ramp up hiring, disciplinary procedures

The ESD 10 board also approved completing settlement documents and issuing payment of Chuck Grant’s wrongful termination lawsuit.

Magnolia Village is a proposed 60-acre mixed-use development located at FM 1488 and Spur 149. (Courtesy Gulf Coast Commercial Group Inc.)
NEW: 60-acre mixed-use development slated near proposed H-E-B in Magnolia

The development, known as Magnolia Village, will be located across Spur 149 from Stratus Properties' proposed Magnolia Place development where H-E-B is scheduled to break ground in June, according to the release.

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Faith-based series filmed in Montgomery County hopes for spot on Netflix, Hulu

The show, "Breaking Strongholds," explores topics such as suicide, depression and broken families.

From left: Klein ISD Superintendent Jenny McGown and Tomball ISD Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora gave presentations and answered several questions at a North Houston Association breakfast on April 8. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Klein, Tomball ISD superintendents talk work programs, goals for 2021

The superintendents of Klein and Tomball ISDs met to discuss work programs, COVID-19 adaptations and hopes for the 2021 legislative session at an April 8 North Houston Association event.

After serving up chicken in College Station for nearly three decades, Layne’s Chicken Fingers is opening its first location in the Houston area in Katy. (Courtesy Layne's Chicken Fingers)
Layne's Chicken Fingers coming to Katy; Gyro King opens in Sugar Land and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Less than 25% of American office workers have returned to in-person office settings since the start of the pandemic. (Courtesy Pixabay)
DATA: Texas metros lead the nation in return to in-person work since start of pandemic

About 37% of Houston office employees had returned to in-person work as of the end of March, as compared to an average of less than 25% in other major U.S. metros.