Liberty County commissioners believe they have a plan to fix the worst stretch of Plum Grove Road at no cost to the city, but first they have to get city leaders to agree.
Commissioners on Tuesday held a special meeting to approve an agreement that would allow county crews to completely redo the subgrade of a quarter-mile stretch of road from FM 1010 to CR 5000. That stretch of road is believed to have the highest daily traffic count and is in the worst condition due to heavy traffic and flooding rains that have damaged the road surface and eroded the shoulders and road base.
The agreement with the City of Plum Grove would involve the City taking a $20,000 cash donation from Colony Ridge, LLC, the developer of the new subdivisions south of Plum Grove, which are responsible for most of the congestion on the road and the damage from heavy trucks. Colony Ridge Developer Trey Harris has agreed to make the payment, which would then be passed on to Liberty County for the cost of road materials. The county will provide all the manpower and equipment to make the repairs at no additional cost to the City of Plum Grove.
Believing the agreement is a win-win for the citizens of Plum Grove, the County and Colony Ridge, commissioners are now asking that the Plum Grove City Council formally approve the agreement at a special-called city council meeting set for Thursday night, but councilmembers might be a no-show because they have reportedly undergone testing for COVID-19, according to City Secretary Missy Pouncey and Mayor Mary Arrendell.
Arrendell, who was sworn into office just a week ago, says she has been informed by the city’s attorney that she must have four councilmembers in attendance to vote on the agreement as the meeting is special-called and not a regular monthly meeting.
“I was hoping we could teleconference the meeting but now I am being told that there is a problem with dropped calls,” the mayor said.
When asked if there was another work-around, such as meeting in the parking lot of city hall and quickly voting on the one agenda item, Arrendell said she is hoping that councilmembers will somehow find a way to attend the meeting on Thursday night or offer a solution.
Pct. 1 Commissioner Bruce Karbowski, Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur and Pct. 3 Commissioner James “Boo” Reaves are anxious to get started on the work as a sudden round of wet weather could cause setbacks. They have already positioned 400 tons of subgrade materials and equipment in the Cleveland area so they can start on the work as soon as they get the green light from the City of Plum Grove.
“Cleveland ISD Superintendent Chris Trotter, when he addressed the the court recently, was basically begging us to get something done with that road before we end up with a bus flipped over with our kids on it. This has nothing to do with Plum Grove or Colony Ridge. It’s a safety issue for our kids. It’s something that needs to be addressed immediately before the rain sets in,” Karbowski said. “It all hinges on whether Plum Grove even wants our help. This has rocked on for a year and a half, and that road has gotten worse and worse.”
Liberty County Judge Jay Knight told commissioners that he has been working with officials with the Texas Department of Transportation to get new signs issued that would alert traffic to the dangerous curve on FM 1010, where traffic often backs up as a result of the heavy traffic on Plum Grove Road, and to look for ways to improve FM 1010 such as a possible turning lane or widening of Plum Grove Road.
The agreement the County is offering Plum Grove also includes repairs to Church Loop Road as that road will be needed for traffic while the road base of Plum Grove Road is torn up and recompacted.
“We have proposed to fix that road and detour the traffic through there while we do the repairs on Plum Grove Road. We would have to fix that road first and temporarily widen it and put cold patch on the holes,” Karbowski said. “We would let traffic come through there while we take 2 to 3 days to re-stabilize Plum Grove Road.”
Knight called the agreement “the first step in many steps.”
“It’s going to be a cooperative effort but we need this cooperation to start today. I can’t stress it enough. We can get a lot done if we just work together,” the county judge said.
Superintendent Trotter is hopeful that the city and county will come to an agreement.
“I think it’s great when local entities work together. It’s a great thing for the kids of Cleveland ISD. The safety of our kids must come first,” he said.