I found this Chron article about the coming encroachment of Houston onto the little (real little - population 719) town of Fulshear to be fascinating. It's interesting, and commendable, that the town's honchos have been planning for this eventuality. (Planning! OMG! What would Randal O'Toole think?). And I liked the comment to the effect that some people long for small-town living until they realize there aren't any grocery stores nearby.
Of course, from Fulshear, there's lots of stuff that isn't nearby. But people will be moving there anyway, once all the new houses are built.
Six housing developments, totaling more than 14,000 homes, are planned or under way in Fulshear or its extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Assuming an average of three people per household -- a figure recommended by Texas State Demographer Karl Eschbach that accounts for likely vacancies -- these projects alone would add 42,000 people to Fulshear's population by 2020, when all are scheduled to be completed.
Mayor James W. Roberts predicted even higher levels of growth, saying Fulshear could surpass Sugar Land as the county's largest city in 20 to 25 years.
The town's government will be challenged to provide services to all the new residents as its population takes a "quantum leap," said Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert.
In some ways, Fulshear is well-positioned for this growth. The town is close to the Energy Corridor, a burgeoning job center where expanding oil and gas companies and commercial developers are adding more than 3 million square feet of office space.
The Westpark Tollway, which stops just a few miles east of Fulshear, provides access to the Galleria area and other destinations in Houston.
The line about Fulshear being well-positioned for this growth because it's "close" to the Energy Corridor and not-too-inconvenient for the Galleria, brought me up short. It sure didn't look close from the map provided in the print edition, but let's not rely on that. Let's get some driving directions from Google Maps and see what it tells us. I chose as my starting point a place that was implicitly mentioned in the story, Dozier's Barbecue, at 8222 Farm-to-Market 359, which is conveniently located right at the intersection of FM1093, which in turn runs into the Westpark Toll Road. Here's how you get from Dozier's to the Adam's Mark Hotel, just inside Beltway 8 at Westheimer. Google Maps tells me it's 3.8 miles to the Westpark Tollway, about 18 miles to Beltway 8, and a little more than 19 miles to my destination, or 26 driving minutes. Not too bad, though not really my idea of "close".
How about the Galleria? Google Maps says "25.7 miles - about 36 minutes (up to 50 minutes in traffic)". That's rather an understatement, wouldn't you say? But hey, when you gotta shop, you gotta shop, and this is closer to you than it would be from The Woodlands.
Bear in mind, of course, that all of this is a best-case scenario. These are the easiest parts of Houston to reach from the Westpark Toll Road - imagine continuing on to downtown or the Medical Center instead - and it's using the most convenient location as a starting point. Once all those developments get built, with their cul-de-sacs and one-way-in, one-way-out accesses, all of the other suburban traffic issues will apply, which could add fifteen minutes or more to any real commute. Taking the Westpark this distance every day also means paying $5.70 a day in tolls at current rates. And don't expect any mass transit options any time soon. You want to move to Fulshear some day, be prepared to spend a lot of time and money in your car. Greg has more.Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 09, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston