Proposed Waterway improvements include extension of pathway, pedestrian bridge

The Woodlands Development Company, The Woodlands Township and The Woodlands Road Utility District No. 1 continue to initiate projects throughout Town Center—the entertainment, shopping and dining hub of The Woodlands. The goal of the projects is to improve and expand pedestrian access while making room for future growth.

Last month, WRUD announced that it was seeking matching federal grant funding through the Houston-Galveston Area Council for the extension of pedestrian pathways along Waterway to Lake Woodlands.

The extension, which would be about a 10th of a mile, would allow pedestrians to walk the entire one-mile stretch of the Waterway along paved pathways.

"[The goal] is to bring a real active, exciting aspect to what's already a pretty dynamic area," said John Powers, assistant general manager for community services for The Woodlands Township.

Mike Page, spokesman for the WRUD, said H–GAC serves as the conduit through which federal grant money is allocated.

Miles McKinney, director of transportation for the township, said H–GAC has typically provided matching funding for pathway construction along the Waterway. The township board last month approved a resolution in support of the grant application, an action that McKinney said could improve the project's chances of receiving funding.

Page, who also serves as the township board's attorney, said neither the WRUD nor the township have the money allocated for the required 20 percent local match for the project. Instead, the WRUD has entered into an agreement with The Woodlands Development Company to fund the 20 percent local match, while the remaining 80 percent will be paid for through the grant.

The determination on whether the project receives federal grant funding will likely come in the spring, he said.

Meanwhile, The Woodlands Development Company and the township are moving forward with plans to build a pedestrian bridge across Waterway near the location of the Waterway fountains.

Robert Heineman, vice president of planning for the Development Company, said the entire scope of the project includes the construction of a permanent stage near the fountains, elevated viewing area on the south side of Waterway, improved landscaping and permanent vendor booths.

"There would be some seating on the south side of the Waterway that faces the square and the park, but you will be able to view the stage from the upper areas of Waterway Square place, as well," Heineman said. "You will be able to view the entertainment from either side of Waterway."

Waterway Square, which includes lighted fountains set to music, and often a temporary stage for events, such as the Live at Night series, Waterway Nights and holiday festivities, has proven to be a popular attraction for residents and visitors to The Woodlands.

According to The Woodlands Convention and Visitors Bureau, more than 10,000 visitors attended these events last year.

The project also includes another public park to be constructed on the south side of Waterway, near the connection of the pedestrian bridge.

"The whole idea is to enhance what is there and to make it better," Heineman said.

The pedestrian bridge is a joint project between the Development Company and the township.

Powers said the township is responsible for funding the project, while the Development Company is in charge of the design and hiring the architect for such projects. The cost of the project is about $1.2 million, Powers said.