H-GAC to request consultants for South Montgomery County mobility plan

South Montgomery County entities and the Houston-Galveston Area Council are finalizing the scope of work for a regional mobility study, and requests for consulting firms could be distributed as early as May.

Several entities—including Montgomery County Precinct 3, The Woodlands Township, and the Cities of Shenandoah and Oak Ridge North—met for a third time regarding the mobility plan on April 24. The entities discussed the scope of work and the process moving forward, including who should serve on the steering committee, possible funding for the project and which stakeholders need to be included in meetings.

The group agreed not to include Tomball in the steering committee, but to add the city to the list of stakeholders and include data from Tomball projects, such as Hwy. 249. Other stakeholders considered include the South Montgomery County Area Chamber of Commerce, the North Houston Association, Conroe ISD and local hospitals. Alan Clark, Metropolitan Planning Organization director for H-GAC's transportation department, said stakeholders would meet about once every three months.

Clark suggested the steering committee—which will guide the development of the study—be limited to 10 members. The group agreed at least Montgomery County, The Woodlands, Shenandoah, Oak Ridge North, Harris County and The Woodlands Road Utility District would be members of the committee.

The group agreed the cost of the project would likely be between $400,000 and $500,0000. Clark said H-GAC would likely fund $250,000 if the project costs $400,000 and would increase funding to at least $300,000 if the project rose to $500,000 or more. Clark said the estimate is a "ball park figure" and H-GAC will have a better idea of costs after receiving consultant proposals.

Woodlands Township President Don Norrell said at a township meeting April 24 the entities agreed on possible funding for the study. Should the study cost $500,000, the township, Woodlands RUD, Montgomery County and possibly Conroe would pay $50,000 each while Shenandoah and Oak Ridge North would contribute $25,000 apiece.

Clark said entities would have about a week following the April 24 meeting to send notes or changes on the scope of the project, which includes dozens of transportation and mobility concerns across South Montgomery County. Once the scope is finalized, interlocal agreements can be drawn up to be approved by each entity, including the H-GAC Board of Directors.

Then requests for consultants can be distributed, Clark said. The group agreed at the meeting to allow H-GAC and the Texas Department of Transportation to score and chose the consultants for the project. Clark said entities can provide additional information on the consultants to help make decisions, and he anticipates most bidding consultants will likely be from the area.

The group's goal is for the study to be completed by spring 2014 in time for H-GAC's next Regional Transportation Plan, which prioritizes projects to receive federal funding. Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack spoke optimistically about the study's potential.

"I definitely think this is going to help us have a plan for the future and to receive state and federal funding for transportation projects," Noack said.

By Matt Stephens
Matt Stephens joined Community Impact Newspaper in December 2012. A Tomball native and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Matt joined as a reporter for The Woodlands team before being promoted to help launch the Spring | Klein edition in spring of 2014 and later to North Houston managing editor in late 2015. He has served as managing editor to the Phoenix and Nashville papers since August 2020.