Harris County Commissioners have agreed to a proposal to help Montgomery County build its portion of the SH 249 toll road.
The Memorandum of Understanding, signed by commissioners, states that Harris County will lend up to $20 million to develop SH 249 from Spring Creek to FM 1774.
"To understand this you have to go back about 10 years when the Westpark Freeway and the Ft. Bend Highway was going in," said Harris County Pct. 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle. "There were concerns that Harris County was going to spend a lot of money on our side and then have to wait for Ft. Bend County to catch up."
So Harris County eventually agreed to lend Ft. Bend County $15 million to complete their portion, according to Cagle.
"That success is the model for our partnership with Montgomery County," he said.
Cagle said that while Montgomery County could ultimately afford the project on its own, the length of time it would take would slow the project.
"It could delay it, even by several years," he said.
Cagle said the speed with which Harris and Montgomery counties have come together to start the project has caught the attention of state officials.
"TxDOT has now committed to extending the Aggie Freeway all the way out to highway 6, once it is complete to 1774," he said.
The first phase of the project will be Harris County's, where they will expend 249 from Spring Cypress Road to FM 2920. Construction on that is expected to begin this fall. The second phase, from FM 2920 to FM 1774, will begin about a year later. Cagle said TxDOT will follow a year after that, beginning work on the extension to SH 6 in Navasota.
Cagle praised Montgomery County Commissioner Craig Doyal for his hard work and cooperation on the issue.
"He (Doyal) definitely understands that a rising tide floats all ships," he said.
Cagle said the loan will be at a standard commercial rate, which Montgomery County will pay back once they secure revenue bonds, which will then be paid off using toll revenues.
"This area is so congested that it has hindered its growth," Cagle said. "This is akin to taking the locks off this area and allowing business to just flow in."
"With the 249 project and Grand Parkway coming soon as well, I see this area becoming a prime attraction for business and growth, not just regionally but nationally as well," he added.
Magnolia Chamber of Commerce Chairman Barry Tate knows this development is important to the area and its businesses.
"We want to be sure our chamber members are informed about the SH 249 road project, because we feel this project could really impact them, both during construction and after the road opens," Tate said. "That is why we are devoting our February luncheon to this topic, and have invited quest speakers to be sure everyone has a chance to get their questions answered."