By: Jessica Shorten
CONROE, TX – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved an update to the countywide thoroughfare plan Tuesday morning. However, one roadway is still causing discourse between Precinct 2 and The Woodlands.
The 2021 Major Thoroughfare Plan accepted Tuesday removed a number of controversial roadways from its plan including the Woodlands Parkway, Gosling Road, and Branch Crossing extensions. Unfortunately, the Woodtrace Boulevard construction connecting SH-249 to Conroe Huffsmith Rd. is generating its own stir.
Based on the map of the 2021 Thoroughfare Plan, Woodtrace Blvd. is set to tie into Mansion Way on the other side of Conroe Huffsmith. The connection sits one quarter mile away from the intersection of Woodlands Parkway and has led to members of the public questioning the placement of the road as a workaround of the Woodlands Parkway Extension despite adamant promises from elected officials that such a project would not be constructed.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley was adamant during Court that the Woodtrace Blvd. construction had nothing to do with the Woodlands Parkway Extension.
“Matter of fact, the right-of-way that was right across the street from Woodlands Parkway has been platted as a commercial development for the Woodlands. Some of the property that was owned by one individual has been sold back to him,” stated Commissioner Riley. “This road has absolutely nothing to do with the Township or The Woodlands. It’s coming from 249 to an intersection at Mansions Way.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack encouraged Riley to get with The Woodlands Township Board to clarify that the road does not fall within their boundaries and could not be taken over by The Woodlands if they were to incorporate, “There seems to be some confusion by even elected officials for the Township Board that believe that even the new alignment could be controlled by them if they were to become a city.”
While incorporation would give The Woodlands Township a place on the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) to discuss future plans for the region, it would not change Montgomery County’s position on the thoroughfare plan.
During the 2018 election cycle, many candidates for office, including current County Judge Mark Keough, confused Woodtrace Blvd. with the Woodlands Parkway Extension. Often insinuating the two projects were one and the same before the Woodlands Parkway Extension was formally removed off the H-GAC Major Thoroughfare Plan in 2020. It would seem the issue is being brought back this election cycle with The Woodlands Township seeking incorporation and a challenger to Riley’s seat as Commissioner.
Jennifer Eckhart, a challenger for the Precinct 2 Commissioner’s office, issued a press release against the Woodtrace Boulevard extension, citing a lack of noise impact studies and proper flood mitigation.
Eckhart stated, “Commissioner Charlie Riley made a video promising, in May of 2018, that a Thoroughfare in the name of an extension from FM 2978 to Hwy 249 was not going to be built. This promise was in response, according to Riley, to the citizens voting this project down in 2015. Despite this promise on his Facebook page, Charlie Riley is planning a thoroughfare called the Woodtrace Boulevard Extension, which will run along the backside of the Woodlane Forest neighborhood, among others.”
Woodtrace Boulevard is not the same as the Woodlands Parkway Extension, and it never has been. At no point will Woodtrace Blvd. directly connect to the Woodlands Parkway. However, Woodtrace Boulevard and Woodlands Parkway will exist on opposite sides of FM 2978, about a quarter mile from one another.
The Montgomery County Major Thoroughfare Plan was adopted by Commissioners Court. Click here for the complete map.
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