Anyone who has traveled through Liberty County lately knows that transportation is lagging behind all the growth coming to the area, which is why Liberty County, the cities of Cleveland, Dayton and Liberty, and the Texas Department of Transportation are working with the Houston-Galveston Area Council of Governments on a Liberty County mobility study.
The study, which should wrap up in January 2022, is expected to identify short-term and long-term solutions to improve mobility. The short-term solutions are the “quick fixes,” things the cities, the county and TxDOT can do immediately to improve mobility. The long-term recommendations will require major funding, which could prove to be more challenging.
Thomas Gray, principal transportation planner for the eight-county H-GAC, discussed Liberty County mobility study at a chamber luncheon held earlier this month in Cleveland.
“Some of our short-term recommendations – we want to look at signal lights at the intersection of FM 2025 and US 59 (in Cleveland). Apparently TxDOT is on board with that and it will happen sooner rather than later,” Gray said. “Longer term, we want to widen that bridge. Obviously that will be much more expensive because you will have to rebuild the bridge. It’s a choke point and it’s only going to get worse as development continues. I know the [Cleveland] school district has a campus it is putting in up there.”
Another traffic intersection in the Cleveland area being reviewed is the intersection of the SH 105 bypass and SH 321. The short-term recommendation is to make changes in the signal lights. The long-term recommendation is to add dedicated turning lanes, which will require right-of-way acquisitions, Gray said.
Plum Grove Road (FM 1010), which is a major traffic artery due to the booming growth in the Colony Ridge communities, is also on the list for potential improvements.
“We know there is a lot of development occurring south of here. One of the recommendations is for the county to undertake a formal thoroughfare plan, which basically shows where the roads ought to go as the county grows. This county is already growing and the Grand Parkway is coming in soon. It’s not going to slow down; it’s only going to speed up,” Gray said. “If you have a plan and a developer comes in, you can tell the developer, ‘You can build your development, your subdivision, but you have to have Road X or Y there. You have to get it approved by the county because it’s part of the county’s development regulations.”
Not surprisingly among the recommendations is a bypass for the City of Dayton. With US 90, SH 146, SH 321 and FM 1960 all converging in Dayton, and a railroad underpass that frequently floods, Gray said H-GAC is looking at schematics to build a bypass around Dayton.
“We don’t know what it’s going to look like right now, however,” he said.
Not all of the recommendations in the study pertain to highways and bypasses.
“We are going to have recommendations for the City of Cleveland for sidewalk connections, especially those connecting existing segments in downtown areas. Some blocks have sidewalks and some don’t. We also want to look at sidewalks around school campuses. Some of the streets we might want to prioritize [in Cleveland] are East and West Houston, North and South Washington, and Southline streets. Those are your major thoroughfares coming into downtown,” Gray said.
Improving the safety of crosswalks, especially those around schools, will be getting additional review, as will Brazos Transit bus stops.
“You don’t have any formal stops for Brazos Transit buses. When the bus comes, you just stand out there and wave it down. We are going to recommend formal bus stops. We want to construct them in areas that have major on and off points, and around commercial areas. We have data from Brazos Transit showing that a lot of people are getting on the bus to travel,” Gray said.
Regarding future growth, Gray said H-GAC is going to recommend policy changes in the way cities and Liberty County deals with development, such as the way plats are submitted, general design and construction standards, and right-of-way dedication.
“As the county continues to grow, we would make recommendations regarding upgrading and standardizing the development process,” Gray said.
A second public hearing, which will likely be held virtually like the first public hearing, should be set later this year. The study is expected to be finished by January 2022.
In other Cleveland Chamber news, local realtor Regina Vollmer was chosen as the Chamber Ambassador of the Year, the Pct. 6 Constable’s Office was selected as the Business of the Month for October 2021, and Vanesa Brashier, editor of Bluebonnet News, was selected as Citizen of the Month. Each year, 12 businesses and 12 citizens are selected and will compete for Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year, which will be announced at the Chamber’s annual gala on Jan. 22, 2022.
For more information on the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, go online to https://clevelandtxchamber.com/ or call 281-592-8786.