The voters there are engaged in this issue, that much is for sure.
Life is on hold in the parking lot that is Rayford Road, 4 miles of too many cars squeezing into too few lanes. Even when it isn’t so busy, which isn’t often, there is a chance a passing train can bring traffic to a halt.
It is just the sort of bottleneck Montgomery County leaders intend to unplug with a $280 million bond measure to build new and wider roadways that voters will decide on Nov. 3.
The measure would set aside the biggest chunk of money – $60 million – for improvements along Rayford Road, one of the county’s most congested streets. While the project could bring needed relief to traffic-weary drivers, the roadway represents only a small part of the rapidly growing county’s mobility problems.
That’s because there are far more projects across the county than could be covered by a one-time burst of cash. A new study estimated road needs to be about $1.6 billion over the next quarter-century for just south county, roughly the area from the Harris County line to FM 1488 and Texas 242, including The Woodlands.
“The bond issue is only the start of the process,” said retired Montgomery County Judge Alan Sadler, who backs the measure. “The county has billions of dollars of road needs.”
If voters approve the borrowing, those funds could generate hundreds of millions more in state and federal aid for road projects, Sadler said. But voters have rejected the last two requests for new transportation money.
Sadler, the former judge, said he expects the county to ask voters to approve more borrowing within next four or five years.
While H-GAC’s study made recommendations with cost estimates, it’s not a comprehensive mobility plan, said Carlene Mullins, a transportation planner for the regional council.
“It’s a concept,” she said. “It’s going to be up to local officials on how to implement a plan.”
But Mullins said they need to act. “Doing what you can with the funds you have would be better than nothing at all,” she said. “If you don’t build any roads, the people are still going to come. It’s just going to get more congested.”
See here, here, and here for some background. I have no dog in this fight and don’t really care what happens with this referendum, I just continue to be amused by it all. It’s a lovely combination of parochial self-interest, severe dislike of spending money, and utter lack of planning, which is ironic given the super-master=planned status of The Woodlands, with a dash of back-room dealmaking thrown in for good measure. I’ve wondered before what Montgomery County will do if they continue being unable to pass these bonds, but it’s also worth wondering if they can solve their problems even with a compliant electorate. There’s an awful lot of demand on their roads, with a rapidly growing population and few if any other tricks in their bag beyond building more roads. What does Montgomery County look like in 20 or 30 years if can’t ever get anywhere in a timely fashion? I’m glad that’s not my problem.