HIGHLANDS Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber, Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman outlined The Future of Precinct 2 for the audience. The event took place at the San Jacinto Community Center on Nov. 13.
Commissioner Morman set the context for his talk by noting that Harris County was growing at a rate of 13% in the last 3 years, and that meant that the county had to grow services and transportation to meet the needs that were created.
He noted that the transportation infrastructure was now at capacity, saying that Proposition 4 which passed on the Nov. 4 ballot, would provide additional funding for highways.
He said that the County had recently passed their 2015 budget, and that even with increases in many departments, it was balanced with no tax increase, due to higher assessed values related to population growth.
Morman spoke in detail about project in his Precinct 2 that are planned to be built to meet the growth needs.
He said that there are four projects planned for the next few years, that will cost about 2 billion dollars. As early as 2017, he expects construction to start on a new bridge over the ship channel, to supplement or replace the current toll bridge at the East Loop. with a new bridge, plus a replacement, there would be 4 lanes in each direction where there are now only two narrow lanes each way. This should be complete with 8 lanes, by the year 2020 he said.
In conjunction with these new bridges, he says the county is planning on widening the East Loop.
Also in planning stages are an expansion of Highway 146 through Baytown and Mont Belvieu, and additional lanes for the Hardy Toll Road, especially in the northern section near the new ExxonMobil development.
Morman noted that he has 15 cities within Precinct 2, and he has projects underway in all of the cities. He said that the success of all these projects is partnerships, with the state and various municipalities to provide funding and planning.
He noted a number of road projects in the precinct, especially FM2100 from Barrett Station/FM1942 to Huffman/FM1960. He characterized this project as the key to opening up the whole Northeast Harris County area for growth.
Crosby-Lynchburg Road will be widened in two phases, he said. Phase I is in design, and will cost $4.2 million. It consists of a 5 lane concrete curb and gutter road with sidewalks on one side, and will run from 1942 to Arcadian Lane in Barrett Station. This coincides with a TxDOT project to widen the road from FM1942 to US90.
In Phase II of this project, the roadway will be widened with a similar design, from Arcadian Lane to Magnolia Street in Barrett, at a cost of $3.58 million.
Crosby-Lynchburg Road is the only North-South route from I-10 at Lynchburg, to FM1960 in Huffman, and traffic jams of several miles long occur frequently because it is now only two lanes in many places, he said. These projects are meant to resolve that problem.
Morman said engineers were studying several intersections, with the intent to improve them when designs are done. These include Wallisville at Thompson, Wallisville at Crosby-Lynchburg, and Crosby Lynchburg where E. Houston and W. Houston do not now align.
He said a speed study has been made of Crosby-Lynchburg, and changes will be made.
Working with Centerpoint, Pct. 2 has installed 40 new streetlights to improve visibility at Highlands intersections. Other locations are being studied, he said.å
Mormans Pct. 2 includes almost a million residents, has 1300 miles of county roads, the Lynchburg Ferry and the Washburn Tunnel. It also includes 10 community centers, 50 parks, and 380 employees.
His top priority, he said, is economic growth in East Harris County, by improving the infrastructure and developing a business friendly environment in county government.