Katy Area News
  • Heritage Parkway project moving forward with completion expected in 2020

    March 13, 2018
    By: Karen Zurawski - Houston Chronicle

    Fort Bend County is partnering with private entities to build a four-lane road connecting Interstate 10 and FM 1093 that could open in 2020 to offer north/south traffic another option to presently congested FM 1463 and the Grand Parkway.

    Fort Bend County commissioners approved on March 6 an agreement for regional road improvements with eight private entities and interlocal agreements with the cities of Katy and Fulshear. Both passed with no discussion.

    "This is a great example of a public/private partnership that has come together to benefit everyone in Fort Bend County," said Doug Goff, president/CEO Johnson Development Corp., the developer of Jordan Ranch, which is one of the eight private entities. The developer will donate land for the right of way, he said. "The landowners adjacent to the parkway are collective contributing 50 percent of the cost to design and construct the 6& mile 4-lane divided roadway," he added.

    "The first phase of the The Heritage Parkway will span from the Westpark Tollroad north to I-10 at the Pederson Road intersection. This will be the next north-south collector roadway west of the Grand Parkway and will greatly enhance mobility in the region," Goff said. "In several cases, the Texas Heritage Parkway will provide a connection to tracts of land that currently don't have any means of access."

    In addition to Fort Bend Jordan Ranch, LP, the participating entities listed are CCR Texas Holdings LP; Cathexis RE Holdings, LP; Ronald W. Henriksen "A" Trust & Ronald W. Henriksen "B" Trust; D.R. Horton – Texas, Ltd.; DJH Ranching, LP, CAT HIL Allen, LLC; and CAT HIL Fulshear, LLC.

    Richard Muller, attorney for the private entities, said, "Private/public partnership happen all the time. This is a bit unique because it involves such a large project and so many different participants in that private/public partnership."

    He acknowledged that reaching agreement was difficult because so many people were involved. "Everybody realized development is coming," said Muller. "We either do this project now or lose the opportunity."

    Katy Mayor Chuck Brawner said he was glad that Fort Bend County was able to take care of the major hurdle so that the project can move forward. He added, "The first part of the project is already built in Young Ranch." Katy City Council approved last June resolutions authorizing the mayor to sign interlocal agreements with the Katy Development Authority to build and maintain the parkway and with the county for construction of the road within city limits. Katy's share of the cost is about $5.6 million.

    Fulshear Mayor Jeff W. Roberts said, "The Parkway project is an excellent opportunity to leverage public and private dollars to expedite the development of a critical mobility and development corridor for our community and region." Fulshear City Council approved an agreement with the county last May. Fulshear's cost is about $5.8 million. County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers said Katy is contributing its portion and the county is covering Fulshear's share which the city will repay.

    Project cost of $48.8 million includes construction and design. Landowners will put up 50 percent of cost and the cities and county collectively will put up the other half, Muller said. The breakdown is the county at 27 percent of cost or about $14 million, Katy at 11 percent and Fulshear at 12 percent. The project also will include a regional trail 10 to 12 feet wide for hikers and bikers. Muller and Meyers said landowners will pay for the trail without contributions from the county or cities, bringing the cost close to $52 million.

    The design makes the project unique because it will have roundabouts and no signalized intersections, said Muller. Roundabouts exist but not a 6.2-mile road with every major intersection a roundabout, he said. All roundabouts will have tunnels under them so people using the trail will not have to cross roadways. The right of way will be 200 feet instead of 120 feet to leave room for bioswales, the trail and landscaping. "It's going to be a cool project," said Muller. "The larger median heavily landscaped with trees will look more like country not just pavement," added Meyers.

    A purpose of the parkway is to move more traffic more quickly. FM 1463 and the Grand Parkway which carry north/south traffic both are congested and the Texas Department of Transportation has proposed road-widening projects for each.

    Meyers expects June completion of the Cane Island Parkway which will directly connect I-10 to FM 1463 and will offer some congestion relief.

    Meyers said, "We look forward to getting it complete and helping move traffic. It will help both cities and is going to help Waller and Fort Bend counties. All the areas are going to benefit significantly from this road."

    Roberts said, "THP will provide enhanced mobility for our rapidly-growing population by adding a direct connection between Interstate 10 and FM 1093 between FM 1463 and FM 359."

    West Fort Bend County is rapidly developing and is one of the fastest growing parts of the region, Muller said.

    Meyers said he knows people are coming to west Fort Bend. He explained the county already has signed plats for development. "Plats usually are signed a couple years in advance from the time they're signed till developers start selling lots. We've signed enough plats so we know how many acres are being developed and how many houses. We're simply trying to keep pace with growth. We're always kind of behind the curve."

    The parkway project is divided into three phases. Muller said the first phase was completed over the last four years and involves schematic designs, preliminary plans and getting commitments from all the landowners and right of way. He and Meyers said negotiations continue for one small parcel.

    Phase 2 will be the full design construction drawings with a set of plans that can be put out for bid. Muller anticipates seeking bids in January 2019 with construction taking 18 months.

    "Public entities are not on hook for any money until the project is completely designed and right of way secured and actually ready to go to construction," said Muller. The private entities take all risk until the road is ready to be built, he added.

    Roberts said, "Completion of a project of this nature in a single phase, versus various portions being built out as specific developments progress, accelerates opportunities for commercial development and the additional tax base and revenues it brings."

    If the road were built in a normal way in sections as development progressed, it probably would take a decade or more before it's complete, said Muller. The private/public road will not only be built more quickly but also more economically.

    "It's done ahead of development instead of being always behind it," he added.

    Muller said "CDS Market Research did a study in 2015 that concluded that, the Texas Heritage Parkway would increase property tax and sales tax revenues to the county, Katy and Fulshear by $815 million over a 25-year period."

    Meyers said the anticipated tax revenues from development plus bond funds will pay the county's share of the project. The Fort Bend County Mobility 2013 project summary list included an earlier version of the Heritage Parkway - Fulshear Parkway. The list showed a bond amount of $4.5 million for the 6.3-mile, four-lane concrete road at a total project cost of $47 million.

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