In conjunction with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Liberty County has been conducting a mobility study over the past two years as part of HGAC’s Regional Transportation Plan. That plan is a 20-year vision for the region, consisting of the eight counties surrounding the Houston-Galveston area.
During a pair of recent public meetings, H-GAC unveiled plans on both the regional level and recommendations for Liberty County. The plans for that study are focused heavily on the cities of Cleveland, Dayton, and Liberty, with funding coming from the county as well as the economic development corporations of the three cities and an H-GAC grant.
“The Regional Transportation Plan lays out for the eight counties that surround Harris County the longrange 20 plus years vision for what the transportation ought to look like, and the plans that we call sub-regional plans in counties like Liberty County those are really sort of intended to feed into the regional transportation plan,” said Transportation Director Craig Raborn.
That regional plan is updated every four years and focuses on mobility from several perspectives, including safety, traffic, and different forms of transportation in an ever-growing area.
“As a region, the population is going to add 3.5 million people over the next 20 or so years,” said Raborn.
He also pointed to the current growth rate over the last five years regionally, which has seen an increase of 270 people a day and the addition of 140 jobs a day in the same stretch.
“That’s a whole bunch more people coming and going to schools, going shopping, going to work,” said Raborn.
The regional growth hits home in Liberty County. That growth will only continue to increase, affecting the need for better mobility in the area and as a feeder to other areas of greater Houston.
Liberty County is expected to grow by 90% over the next couple of decades, bringing the population to somewhere around 160,000 plus, with a steady increase in the number of jobs locally.
“A few years ago, the cities of Liberty, Dayton, and Cleveland, as well as Liberty County came to us to talk about a mobility study to look at intersections, corridors, safety, crash hotspots, and things like that,” Chief Transportation Planner Thomas Gray said of the Liberty County portion of the study.
The vision set forth in the Liberty County Mobility Study addresses needs through multimodal transportation, development, and economic policy, while meeting H-GAC’s goals of mobility, safety, and enabling economic opportunity regionally.
“Looking at improving intersections, improving corridors, building sidewalks, maybe improving the transit options here in Liberty and Dayton. Unlike where the regional transportation plan is a long-range plan, the Liberty County Mobility Study has more short-range projects that can be implemented quicker,” said Gray.
H-GAC has also recommended that the county do a formal thoroughfare process to help guide development and prepare for planning as developers move into the area.
“Liberty County grew by 20% between 2010 and 2020. Between 2010 and 2045, we expect the population of this county to double,” Gray continued, “the Grand Parkway is almost open, and it will open up new development, so the cities and the county are proactive in trying to get in front of some of this growth and prepare for what is going on.”
Some shorter-term projects will deal with the timing of signals and stripping, while others will focus on larger projects, most notably a loop around Dayton. That is a project long talked about, but it has finally gained real traction.
According to H-GAC officials, there are already over a billion dollars in funding planned for projects across the county.
Now HG-AC is looking to local community members to give input on a number of projects, with interactive maps available to participants.
You can give your input on both the Regional Transportation and Liberty County plans by visiting the H-GAC site at engage.h-gac.com to take the survey. Comments are due by May 26.
County Judge Jay Knight encourages everyone to be a part of the planning and give feedback to develop the best and most efficient plan possible.
“If we get more people involved, we get more ideas,” said Knight.
Knight believes this information will allow all parties to make the best decisions moving forward.