Conroe, April 17 – Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Clark spoke to a packed room of the College Park Village Association about road projects in the Harpers Landing vicinity and in Shenandoah within Commissioners Precinct 4. Clark explained that Precinct 4 includes the largest land mass of the four Commissioners Precincts if one subtracts Lake Conroe and the national forest from Commissioners Precinct 1.
Clark complimented the work of Adam Galand, the District Engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). “Adam Galand has a can-do attitude that I really appreciate. He doesn’t create problems but tries to find ways to solve them,” Clark told the room filled primarily with citizens from Harper’s Landing.
Clark explained that he has taken the road bond funds Commissioners Precinct 4 has had available and “leveraged those funds into much larger projects that will greatly benefit East Montgomery County all the way over to Interstate 45.” Clark said, “TxDOT will build local projects but they often expect the local government entity to provide a local share. By using a large amount of the November 2015 road bond funds, I’m working on bring hundreds of millions of dollars of road projects into Precinct 4 with the taxpayers only having to contribute a small share of those funds.”
Clark gave two major examples of how he has leveraged road bond funds and a third example of such leverage developed right before the eyes of the very interested crowd of Precinct 4 residents.
Widening of SH 242
Clark discussed that the Montgomery County government is contributing $8.94 million for the widening of State Highway 242 from Needham Road to F.M. 1314. “This project will cost many tens of millions of dollars but our local share, from bond funds, will only be a small fraction of the total cost.” Clark also explained that he just recently negotiated with TxDOT’s Galand to construct the widening of SH 242 from F.M. 1314 to I-69 with TxDOT picking up 100% of the tab. “This deal that I’ve worked out with TxDOT is a giant win for the people of all of East Montgomery County, because it will provide so much vital east-west mobility that we’ve sorely needed as development as occurred along the SH 242 corridor.”
“Construction of the F.M. 1314 overpass will begin in the next few months,” Clark said.
David Memorial Drive extension
Several residents raised questions about the progress of the extension of David Memorial Drive. One lady who lives in Harper’s Landing told Clark and the room full of her neighbors, “We’re excited about the extension of David Memorial Drive all the way to 242, because it will bring so much development with it.” Currently the extension of David Memorial Drive has stopped at Ed English Road as a result of “environmental and wetlands issues which have arisen,” Clark explained.
Several residents stressed how important the David Memorial Drive extension was to remove congestion along the northbound feeder road along Interstate 45.
Clark told the residents, in response to several questions, “I’ve committed $2 million of fund from the road bond for the David project.” A lady responded, “We’re counting on you, Commissioner” and the room broke into applause for the popular County Commissioner. “I’m here for you,” Clark responded.
Clark explained that the David Memorial Drive extension will involve an interlock agreement between Montgomery County, the City of Shenandoah, the real estate developer of the Sam Moon shopping center, the State of Texas, and possibly others, including CHI Methodist Hospital. “Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay to develop a hospital road,” Clark said. “We’re sitting down with the City of Shenandoah to try to lock in the amount of share of the construction that they’ll contribute.”
Clark told The Golden Hammer after the meeting concluded that he anticipates that the extension of David Memorial Drive will be complete to connect all the way north to SH 242 within twelve (12) months. “This project will have a gigantic economic impact,” Clark told this newspaper.
Easing traffic congestion on SH 242 near Donwick
TxDOT’s Galand told the crowd of a safety and traffic impact study TxDOT has completed to determine the precise needs of Harper’s Landing residents and motorists near Harper’s Landing at the point where Donwick Drive intersects with SH 242. Several residents complained about the congestion and danger involved with turning onto Donwick and also turning off of it to enter SH 242.
Galand explained that TxDOT has recommended a traffic signal at Great Oaks to the east of the Donwick intersection that would allow drivers to make a U-turn towards Donwick with safety, since the traffic signal would halt westbound traffic on SH 242. “That would provide a lot of safety and spacing between vehicles sorely needed in that area.”
Numerous residents expressed their support for the TxDOT plan but wanted Galand to assure them how quickly the project might be complete. Galand delivered the bad news that it could take anywhere from 4 months to two years to complete the installation of the signal.
At that point in the meeting, Clark jumped up and asked whether contribution of a 20% local share from Clark’s bond funds would “move the project forward.” Galand said, “Yes, definitely.” The room broke out into applause.
Commissioner Clark wheeled and dealed with TxDOT’s Galand right before the very eyes of the residents of the community that so sorely want traffic relief from the State-controlled SH 242.
“I want to move the project forward and up the list. I know that, with a local share as part of the package, TxDOT and the State will give us higher priority,” Clark said. “I’m trying to be a good steward of taxpayer money. You can see how effective my method of leveraging is for our community.”
SH 242 flyovers
Clark closed his remarks with a brief discussion of the SH 242 flyovers. “I’m absolutely for removing the tolls. We’ve all suffered through toll projects where the government never removes the tolls after the project financing is paid. That’s not going to happen here, even if I have to wait until January to get enough people on the Commissioners Court to vote to remove them,” Clark told the residents.
Help appears to be coming for Clark on January 1, 2019, when State Representative Mark Keough will likely be sworn into office as the next Montgomery County Judge.