“Without [Commissioner Charlie Riley], the study would not be taking place. He realized that the development in and around [the] Hwy. 249 toll road will be tremendous and that the precinct would need a mobility plan to develop a transportation network to serve not only the existing residents but future residents,” said Carlene Mullins, project manager for the study with the H-GAC, during an April 22 webinar.
The study process began in September and is anticipated to last 18 months, resulting in a final report with project recommendations in March or April 2022, said Barbara Koslov, senior transportation consultant with Gunda Corp., which is part of the project team for the mobility study.
The study intends to make recommendations for developing a safe, well-connected and efficient multimodal transportation system; promoting orderly growth; providing adequate mobility for people, goods and services; and coordinating public and private investment, Koslov said. This will be done by analyzing the precinct’s existing mobility network, looking at existing and future land use, considering future growth and receiving public input.
Precinct 2 spans 278 square miles, including portions of Conroe, Magnolia, Montgomery, Shenandoah and The Woodlands with a 2018 population of 139,053 residents, according to H-GAC information.
Study findings predict the precinct’s population will more than double by 2040, according to information presented during the April 22 webinar. H-GAC information estimates Precinct 2’s population will rise from 139,100 residents in 2018 to 291,100 residents in 2040 and to 342,000 residents by 2045.
H-GAC data also shows 56% of residents in Precinct 2 traveled more than 30 minutes to work in 2018. Koslov said the study seeks to find reasons for this extended travel time.
Traffic congestion is among the issues in Precinct 2 the study has already identified.
“The roads are designed to carry x number of cars over a certain period of time. If there are more cars traveling on that roadway than it was designed for, then it’s operating over capacity,” Koslov said. “In 2045, you’ll notice almost every thoroughfare is [overcapacity], which means we’re going to have congestion and potentially gridlock throughout the whole precinct. So that’s not sustainable. We need to look at what’s causing the congestion.”
Other concerns identified include school traffic, hospital access, and the lack of north-south and east-west connectivity, Koslov said.
Additionally, safety along the roadways is a concern in Precinct 2, she said.
“We’ve got to reduce the number of crashes and the number of fatalities,” Koslov said.
There were 12,601 crashes in Precinct 2 from 2015-19, including 126—about 1%—that resulted in a fatality, H-GAC data shows.
Koslov also noted most of the proposed residential development in Precinct 2 is in the Magnolia area.
“Much of it is to the west side of the precinct along FM 149 and Hwy. 249,” she said.
With projects along FM 2978, Hwy. 249 and Fish Creek Thoroughfare recently completed or still in the works in Precinct 2, Koslov said there are an additional 31 miles of construction projects proposed, including the extension of Old Conroe Road and access management improvements along the FM 1488 corridor.
Residents can pinpoint traffic concerns on a Precinct 2 map and provide input online to the H-GAC through May 14 to help with the mobility study.
A second public meeting will be held in November, during which time proposed recommendations for the precinct will be presented, Koslov said.
“One of the things we’re lacking at the precinct level is not prioritizing roads the way we should, and I think this is really going to help us do that,” Riley said during the webinar. “I’m looking forward to the finished product.”