Stronger Roads

Yesterday I attended the Friendswood City Council meeting. One of the items discussed was the extension of Friendswood Lakes Boulevard from West Ranch Boulevard to FM 528 (which would border Lake Friendswood Park). As you may recall, in November 2017, voters approved a County bond with a portion of the bond ear marked for Friendswood, specifically for the extension of that particular section of road. It was passed by the voters (you and I, Galveston County tax dollars coming back to Friendswood). It should be noted in April 2017, the Friendswood City Council voted 6 to 1 in favor of using the bond funds, if passed, for that specific road extension. It was disheartening, if not plainly concerning, to hear individuals on the Council last evening wanting to revisit that vote. There was discussion on other options for use of those funds, as well as calling for a road study to see if there were alternative areas where those funds could be used, instead of proceeding with what has already been voted on and approved. This is not the time for indecisiveness. It is time to do what we initially committed to do for our community. I believe if you asked our Police and Fire Departments they would overwhelmingly support this extension as it could potentially enhance their response times.

When I first moved to Friendswood, I was so impressed with the fact that I could get to the essential places that supported my daily needs so quickly, easily and without any stress. In fact, I would often tell people about what I call “Five Minute Friendswood.” I could get to my bank, grocery store, church, drycleaner, favorite eatery, etc. in five minutes (that might be a slight exaggeration, but not far off, and nevertheless close and not burdensome). Over the past five years, however; that short timeframe has started to increase. The intersections at 2351 and 518, 518 and 528, Sunset and 528 have become impacted at the lights, and in many cases it takes more than one light change to get through the intersection, with traffic backed up significantly. Have you experienced that too?

As Friendswood continues to grow in population, the traffic challenges will continue to grow as well. Friendswood’s growth is only part of the problem. Population growth in the surrounding communities should be of deeper concern as they continue to grow at a significantly rapid pace, much more rapid than ours. As this occurs, our roads are being impacted by heavier traffic flows coming from and going to those communities, seeking access to north- and southbound I-45, to Beltway 8 via Pearland Parkway, in addition to other major thoroughfares.

While the extension of Friendswood Lakes Boulevard will not alleviate the entire growing traffic issue, it will at least provide alternative routing for the aforementioned traffic. The biggest impact could very well be to parents trying to transport their children to and from our schools, especially the Junior High School and the Elementary Schools. Additionally, there is a ten-acre parcel of land designated for a new elementary school in West Ranch, creating potentially additional traffic considerations coming into play. Although there are no concrete plans for construction of an elementary school in this location at this time, the property is deeded to FISD and it behooves us to take the utmost care and caution when planning the future for our children. I am sure those of you who are currently involved in transporting children understand the issue.

During the City Council discussion last evening County Commissioner Ken Clark and the Galveston County engineer stated they would work with League City to help them complete their portion of the road extension. When that is completed, and if Friendswood does not complete its portion of the project, that would most likely result in traffic being diverted into and through West Ranch, creating concerns for those immediate residential areas and the safety of our children at school and at play. Not Good! The County Engineer appeared to be somewhat perplexed that Friendswood was questioning where we should be focusing our attention and diverting our tax dollars regarding future road work and why we were not ready to move forward on the extension (stating this was the first time he had experienced this type of hesitation, given the dollars had already been approved).

We need to be proactive in traffic planning for the City and it starts with the funding already approved by voters and the Friendswood City Council (April 2017) for the Friendswood Lakes Boulevard extension and tying it into League City Parkway. I also believe we need to be proactive in looking at our roads and traffic more comprehensively in terms of all the traffic issues we have and will have as growth continues. In addition to completing Friendswood Lakes Boulevard, we need to establish a well-thought out, strategic, long-term approach to address these issues before they become a reality. Traffic studies are only the beginning and the entire process requires considerable time to implement. We need to be more active in discussions with TXDOT in as much as they have custody and care of several of the roads in our community involving such issues as potential lengthening of turn lanes, widening of certain roads, light synchronization, etc.

These are my thoughts and I would welcome your response and discussion. I want to be your voice on the City Council and look forward to spending time hearing each of your concerns, allowing me to best represent your needs and interests in the city.

Let’s work together to Make Friendswood Stronger.

Have a great day,
Omar