As road bond projects finish up in Montgomery County Precinct 3, officials said new needs will be determined in 2021. (Courtesy Fotolia)
With the last Montgomery County mobility projects funded by a 2015 road bond underway, area officials are looking to shape a new set of transportation priorities in 2021.
The Montgomery County Major Thoroughfare Plan, last updated in 2016 and originally scheduled for revision in 2020, was pushed back to the summer of 2021 as a result of COVID-19-related delays. However, officials said before that gets off the ground, the county’s four precincts will need to hold several community meetings this spring.
Officials are also looking at whether remote working has changed commuting patterns.
“We will need to re-evaluate needs post COVID to see if pre-pandemic traffic returns or if the new remote working environment shifts traffic patterns materially,” said Gordy Bunch, chair of The Woodlands Township board of directors, in an email.
According to Brown and Gay Engineers, the company updating the thoroughfare plan through a $125,000 contract, the plan will include an analysis of major roadways; east-west and north-south connectivity; and accessibility on highways, such as the Grand Parkway, Hwy. 249, I-45 and Hwy. 59.
Andrew DuBois, project manager for Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, said in a Dec. 31 email the county will consider projects that meet its needs for growth as well as providing safety and mobility. An initial stakeholder meeting with a diverse group representing communities and interests in Precinct 3 was held Nov. 18, he said.
Although he did not specify projects Noack hopes to see included in the plan, DuBois identified several he said the commissioner believes do not have resident support.
“Specifically, Commissioner Noack already has pushed for the removal of the Woodlands Parkway, Gosling Road and Branch Crossing extensions from the Major Thoroughfare Plan,” DuBois said in the email.
Bunch said the township also has objected in writing to those projects: extending the Woodlands Parkway to Hwy. 249, extending Branch Crossing to FM 1488 and Gosling Road to FM 1488.
Township officials said they did not see a great need for projects within the township’s boundaries.
However, Bunch said the I-45 area from the Grand Parkway to South Loop 336 is in need of attention, and Bruce Rieser, vice chair of The Woodlands Township board, also identified some needs on I-45.
Rieser said access ramps at FM 1488 and at Hwy. 242 where the roads meet I-45, and congestion relief at Research Forest Drive and I-45 would benefit the community.