Trail, 288 feeder among funding possibilities

In News by Reporter News

Five local projects are among the city’s submissions for funding to the Houston Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Improvement Program.

The program, known as TIP, provides funding for approved projects to match city funding. The call for projects remains open only until Jan. 12, assistant City Manager Trent Epperson told the council Dec. 15.

The first project on the list is the expansion of County Road 403 or Hughes Ranch Road.

“The design has been completed. There are some design tweaks we’ll make based on our Safe Route to School plan,” Epperson explained. “We are just requesting construction dollars through the TIP process.”

If approved, the widening project could get under way quickly, possibly beginning in 2016, since the design is complete, he said.

Mayor Tom Reid said the city has had a good track record for acquiring funding.

“We have stepped up and made all of our roadways we put on the TIP shovel ready, and a lot of cities don’t do that,” Reid said. “They get up to the point where they start to collect the funding and they have not done their homework and not completed the basic requirements you need to make it shovel ready.”

“We were ready – and had our matching funds. We’ve been able to move up on quite a few roadways,” he said.

Among Pearland’s five submissions is the expansion of Mykawa Road, a project that was included in the 2007 bond package – but only half-funded based on it receiving outside monies for completion.

“We’ve reapplied for federal funding since then to try to get the other half of the funding but have been unsuccessful to date,” he said. “We’ll make another run at it this year.”

While practically designed, the Mykawa project must go through environmental clearances and land acquisition processes. Thus, it would take several years to develop and likely until 2020 to complete.

Also included in the submissions for TIP is a recently developed Safe Routes to School plan. Based on a study and evaluation study regarding walking and biking safety for students going to local campuses, plans for sidewalk, intersection, crosswalks and other improvements were submitted for Junior High South, Cockrell and Carleston elementaries.

The city is currently working to develop a trail along Clear Creek from City Hall at Liberty to Riverstone Ranch and other residential developments that are picking up another section of the trail. For 2015, the city will submit a TIP project for the Clear Creek Trail from north of the residential developments to the UH Campus.

“We’re looking at starting the development of that in 2017,” Epperson said.

The final but oft discussed project submitted is the East side only of State Highway 288 northbound feeder.

“We’re looking at the feeder road on the East side only,” he said. “We feel that Business Center Drive serves the west side very well. We’re going to begin having conversations with TxDOT on that, as well as HGAC.”

A schematic has been developed already, with potential partners for funding established.

Projects will be submitted this month, and HGAC is set to evaluate all submissions. City staff will likely learn the outcome of those decisions in May.

The city has allocated funds from 2016 through 2019 that would meet all the matching funds required for projects chosen for funding through TIP.

Council last Monday unanimously approved the five projects to be submitted.

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