Image: HGAC and Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley’s 2016 Major Thoroughfare Plan showing Branch Crossing Extension (in purple dots right above the word “Research”) which will turn Branch Crossing Drive into a major thoroughfare that will connect Woodlands Parkway all the way to F.M. 2854 in Conroe.
The Woodlands and Houston, April 10 – Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley has two very special surprises for the residents of south Montgomery County, particularly quiet neighborhoods in Alden Bridge and Sterling Ridge. He plans to build two major thoroughfares, even though voters in both Commissioners Precinct 2 and Commissioners Precinct 3 rejected one of those thoroughfares in a May, 2015, referendum, while the citizens of Precinct 2 clearly don’t want the other one.
Interestingly, Riley has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t support one of the thoroughfares (Woodlands Parkway Extension) and denied any knowledge of the other one (Branch Crossing Extension). But, factually, that can’t be true, because Riley was Montgomery County’s representative on the Houston-Galveston Area Council in 2016 when he proposed their inclusion on HGAC’s 2016 Major Thoroughfare Plan and they did so.
Clearly, Riley intends to run major thoroughfares through the middle of The Woodlands subdivision and turn that neighborhood into fast-moving traffic with congestion of F.M. 1960 proportions. This series of two articles discusses those two projects in two parts. Today’s concerns the Branch Crossing Extension, which Riley has advocated. Tomorrow’s part concerns the Woodlands Parkway Extension which Riley has continued to advocate despite his repeated promises not to do so.
What the 2016 Major Thoroughfare Plan Is
Rather than permitting the citizens of Montgomery County to set their own course with respect to the construction of major thoroughfares, the haughty pro-government HGAC seeks to trump local citizens by imposing regional governance over and above citizen-elected local government entities. The 2016 Major Thoroughfare Plan is the creation of the HGAC Transportation Policy Council of which Montgomery Conty had only one representative in 2016: Charlie Riley. The Federal Highway Administration and the Texas Department of Transportation provided the funding for the 2016 Major Thoroughfare Plan, although both of those entities disavowed any responsibility for the opinions contained in the Plan.
As Riley and his cohorts on the HGAC Transportation Policy Council explained in the Plan report, the Major Thoroughfare Plan covers the long range over 50-plus years to identify the “type and general location of future roadways” to “guide future development.” In beautiful bureaucratic gobbledygook, Riley and HGAC have said, “A thoroughfare plan benefits the county by indicating where needed roadway right-of-way (ROW) should be preserved so that as development occurs or as traffic increases, the County will have the ability to develop appropriate transportation facilities.” In plain English, Riley has committed land within The Woodlands to support his and the HGAC Transportation Policy Council’s plans. Riley stated that his “vision is supported by the following guiding principles: preserve adequate right-of-way for future expansion and connectivity.”
As part of his work on the Major Thoroughfare Plan, Riley invited certain individuals to participate in “focus groups” to provide comments with respect to the proposed Plan. Riley didn’t invite anyone from The Woodlands to participate in the Precinct 2 “focus group” even though large areas of the Precinct 2 portion of the Major Thoroughfare Plan include The Woodlands. Riley did include an employee from his office and two employees of County engineering vendors (who don’t even live in Montgomery County) as part of the “focus group” overseeing the Precinct 2 Woodlands road projects.
While Riley has tried to disavow his Major Thoroughfare Plan, Riley and HGAC made clear that the Plan report contains Riley’s and the Transportation Policy Council’s “recommendations.”
Branch Crossing Extension
Riley’s plan for the Branch Crossing Extension, as shown in the picture taken directly from HGAC’s and Riley’s Major Thoroughfare Plan, will extend from the current terminus of Branch Crossing Drive at Research Forest, cut northeastwardly through to F.M. 1488 and then connect to Old Conroe Road which would extend all the way to F.M. 2854 in Conroe and continuing all the way to the intersection of Longmire Road and State Highway 105.
Riley’s plan calls for Branch Crossing to become a 4-lane road from its inception at Woodlands Parkway at least all the way to F.M. 1488 with a minimum right-of-way 80 feet wide with an 8 foot shoulder on each side. Riley’s plan includes a 14 foot raised median for Branch Crossing as well. Therefore, the full width of Branch Crossing Drive, under Riley’s and HGAC’s Plan, would be approximately 80 to 110 feet in width.
The 2016 Major Thoroughfare Plan reveals that Riley added the Branch Crossing Extension to HGAC’s long-term plans for the first time in 2016.
Riley was the author of the Woodlands Parkway Extension. He’s the primary backer behind the Branch Crossing Extension which will cut a major thoroughfare through quiet neighborhoods in Alden Bridge as well as Sterling Ridge.
The Branch Crossing Extension is an important component of Riley’s centerpiece project, the $85 million TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway. Branch Crossing will, in Riley’s hopes and dreams, carry traffic through Branch Crossing Drive as a major thoroughfare to Woodlands Parkway which Riley intends to connect to TX 249 through the Woodlands Parkway Extension, which is also on Riley’s Major Thoroughfare Plan.