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County seeks funding for $10M Hamblen Road reroute, $2.3M Kingwood park

August 29, 2018

Harris County is pursuing $8 million to widen and reroute Hamblen Road around the site of Edgewater Park — Kingwood area greenspace that the county intends to redevelop.

Renderings of the proposed road project show the potential new Hamblen Road beginning at the intersection of Loop 494 and Sorters-McClellan Road and running southeast to meet with the existing Hamblen Road at Laurel Springs Lane in Forest Cove.

The rerouted stretch of Hamblen would be widened from two lanes to a four-lane concrete roadway with a flyover above the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. The project would also include provisions for drainage, say county officials.

According to project renderings, Edgewater Park sits on 87 acres of land between Loop 494 and Laurel Springs Lane. The existing stretch of Hamblen Road runs through the middle of the property. The reroute would move Hamblen Road closer to the park’s northern and eastern property boundaries.

“The planned improvements will provide a mobility benefit and enhance the development footprint within Precinct 4’s Edgewater Park,” stated an email from Pamela Rocchi, director of Pct. 4 Capital Improvement Projects Division.

County officials estimate the Hamblen Road project construction costs may be $10 million.

They hope to procure 80 percent — $8 million — in federal funding for the Hamblen project through the Houston-Galveston Area Council 2018 Transportation Improvement Program. If approved for inclusion in the 2018 TIP, the county will proceed with establishing a timeline for the Hamblen Project.

“The Harris County Engineering Department is currently working with the City of Houston to identify responsibilities and milestones related to the proposed Hamblen Road project that would include the need for Harris County to obtain a Letter of Support from the City of Houston,” Rocchi stated. “The County plans to design and build this section of Hamblen Road to county standards and agrees to provide permanent maintenance of the planned improvements located within the city limits. Harris County will also seek the appropriate approvals from the Texas Department of Transportation and the Office of City Engineer (floodplain administrator in this area) and follow the City of Houston’s administrative processes as required.”

County to redevelop Edgewater Park

The Harris County Parks Department is planning to apply for a Texas Parks and Wildlife Boating Access Grant, which supplies 75 percent matching funds up to $500,000 for boat launch facility construction, or renovation. The grant funds could be put toward features planned in Edgewater Park, including a boat launch, fish cleaning station, restrooms and parking lots.

The rest of the projected $2.3 million in Edgewater Park facility development costs would be funded by the county.

The application for the Boating Access Grant is due Oct. 1. According to the TPWD website, the grant must be approved before construction can start on facilities that will be assisted by the grant.

The Parks and Wildlife Commission usually considers which of the recommended projects to approve during their January and August meetings. Harris County Parks director, Dennis Johnston, anticipates receiving a decision on the grant sometime after Feb. 1, 2019.

“We’ll continue with the design on that during the interim process, so that the whole design process will continue to roll along,” Johnston said.

According to Johnston, the county is currently in the process of closing the deal on the land acquisition on that property.

Increased connectivity between Kingwood, Humble, The Woodlands

Edgewater Park may also be the future link connecting approximately 300 miles of hike and bike trails spanning from Kingwood to The Woodlands.

Johnston anticipates receiving funds from a TIP grant the county applied for in 2015 to connect the Spring Creek Greenway Trails to an Edgewater Park trailhead via the Bevel Jarrell Bridge.

“Edgewater Park is going to become a major trailhead for all of Kingwood-Forest Cove area into the Greenway project,” Johnston said. “The Greenway project is already finished to Hwy. 59 and within probably the next two weeks we’ll have it finished all the way to I-45 heading west.”

Additionally, Johnston said talks are underway between the county and city of Houston Parks board to potentially link the Edgewater trails to the Greenbelt trails in Kingwood.

“If you link that to the Spring Creek Greenway and head west, which we’re working on continuing beyond I-45 — I’ve already got construction crews on the ground west of I-45 — and link to the Woodlands, the Woodlands has (approximately) 200 miles of trails, so that 15 to 20 miles of trails (in Edgewater Park would) link over 300 miles of trails,” Johnston said. “The upper end to the Woodlands is still a few years off. We’ve got a major bridge in design going over Willow Creek, so we’ve got a pretty unique system that’s well underway.”

mfeuk@hcnonline.com

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