CROSBY The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) held their second Public Hearing at Newport Elementary School last Thursday to gather public input and receive comments on the proposed widening of FM 2100 from FM 1960 to South Diamondhead Boulevard.
A disagreement with the design was held by almost every entity speaking at the public hearing.
TxDOT has designed to widen FM 2100 from a two lane undivided highway to a four lane divided highway. Five foot sidewalks would be constructed on both sides of the roadway. The project would add a lane in both directions. The project would add five detention ponds and require 107 acres of extra right of way. Finally, the project would at current design put in a raised median.
The project length is eight miles. TxDOT indicates that six residences, eight commercial structures and two churches would be displaced in the project. During the environmental presentation 16 structures were said to be displaced. And the project would have medium environmental impact on the community.
During the public hearing portioned all but one of the public that spoke at the hearing opposed the raised median while in support of the widening to make two extra lanes. The reasons varied from safety issues of being unable to get emergency traffic (fire trucks, ambulances, SWAT Tactical Units, Hurricane Relief Trailers to locations due to the raised median and being unable to land a helicopter in the divided highway.
Many of the business community decried the raised median because supply trucks would be unable to complete a U-turn and that turn is illegal anyway. The implication is that a truck would have to turn into a local community to attempt to make a turn around legally and that would also impede the safety of residents from the extra commercial traffic into wayside communities that exist all up and down FM 2100. More of the citizens input will be presented later in this article.
The State maintains that the raised median is to decrease the risk of crashes caused by cross-over traffic.
However, everyone seemed to welcome the extra lanes to relieve congestion already building up at the rush hours. TxDOT stated the purpose of the project is to reduce congestion and enhances safety by accommodating traffic volumes, which are expected to increase by approximately 57 percent on this section of 2100 in the next 20 years.
Danny Perez, Public Information Officer, stated, We have the safety record to show that a raised median is more safe. When questioned about the safety issues being raised by the only elected official that spoke at the meeting.
Verbal and written comments from the public regarding this project are requested and may be submitted in person by mail or e-mailed to HOU-PIOWebmail@txdot.gov to be received or postmarked before May 19, 2016 to become part of the official hearing record. Submitt written comments to TxDOT Houston District, Attn: Director of Project Development, P.O. Box 1386, Houston, Texas 77251-1386.
TxDOT indicaets they intend to consider public hearing comments, finalize environmental analysis, undertake Project decision from TxDOT for the Final Environmental Assessment/Finding of No Significant Environmental Impact, complete final design and begin anticipated construction beginning in 2017.
Current estimated construction cost is $80 Million and estimated duration of construction is about 3.5 years.
Considerations for the environmental impact included the need for 107 extra acres of land, sixteen displacements, medium community cohesion impacts, 7.679 linear feet of floodplain crossings, waters of the U.S. Impcts 0.144 acres and seven stream crossings.