Woodlands board OKs $100K for median repairs, landscaping

– Updated: 6:10 p.m., February 26

The Woodlands Township Board approved $ 100,000 to repair multiple medians in the Village of Grogan’s Mill and other areas of the township that officials claim were damaged in a recent road improvement project.

The medians are distributed across the parish, at four intersections of Grogan’s Mill and South Millbend Drive. New Trails Drive and Technology Forest Boulevard; Branch Crossing Drive and Sterling Ridge Boulevard; Bay Branch Drive and Cochran’s intersection.

The focus of discussion on Wednesday was on the intersection of South Millbend Drive and Grogan’s Mill Road, where construction of a retrofit and modernization of the busy intersection was recently completed. The work was carried out by contractors for James Noack, Commissioner of Montgomery County Precinct 3, and resulted in additional turn lanes being added in different directions.

The workers re-cleared the area and planted new saplings in the larger medians on Grogan’s Mill Road. However, because the added turn lanes required more space, the old medians on South Millbend Drive have been scaled down and cannot be used to plant similar forested buffer plants as before the project. There was some loss of middle space on Grogan’s Mill Road as well.

The vote during the board meeting on Wednesday came with objections from board chairman Gordy Bunch and township director Bob Milner, who both voted “no” and complained about the problem.

“I am against being put in that position repeatedly,” said Bunch.

During the boardroom meeting on Feb. 24, community parks and recreation director Chris Nunes announced to directors that the improvements would be considered “non-standard” and that District 3 officials would not do any further on-site work.

Officials from Noack’s office denied the comments and allegations made by Nunes and community directors at the meeting. A Precinct 3 official stated that the community has never asked for the county to fix suspected damage to the medians and that there is no legal responsibility for the county to do more work than it has already done.

On Friday, community communications director Nick Wolda said the project at the intersection was different from others in the community where the county had carried out work that “restored conditions to previous or better conditions.”

“However, four district projects did not involve the complete restoration of the landscapes to their previous conditions. These four projects involved a limited sward of turf on the edge of curbs and seeded areas, which is inconsistent in The Woodlands, ”explained Wolda. “Based on current contract unit prices, the cost of restoring the landscapes at the four intersections is estimated at $ 100,000, including plant material: Asian jasmine, iris, crepe myrtle, irrigation, water meter, and turf, which coincides with other street image entrances and medians in the woods. “

He said that funding for such a project was not included in the community streetscapes maintenance budget in 2021 and that staff were looking at a hydro-planting grass, which would cost an estimated $ 25,000.

Road improvements

The changes at the intersection of Grogan’s Mill Road and South Millbend Drive have been a point of contention for some in the village. Woodlands Farmers Market officials believed the project was affecting market traffic, and many store owners at the mall said they were unhappy with the partial closure of the exit near Becks Prime.

Molly Vorhees, president of Becks Prime Restaurants, said last year she wrote a letter to Noack asking about the casing of the turn lanes and lights. Vorhees said the changes raised some customer access concerns.

On Friday, Noack sent a letter to the local government and other administrators denying the comments made at the meeting and calling this “disinformation”. He also said the project’s format and landscaping agency were normal and followed the same protocols as previous construction projects.

“Traffic studies have shown that improvements are needed along Grogan’s Mill Road. The additional turning lanes were a significant improvement at this intersection, as (traffic) has never flowed better, ”explained Noack. “The Woodlands has always been responsible for at least part of the landscape improvements through his contract with Howard Hughes once the project is complete.”

Noack also said his staff had been in touch with community workers about the project since 2019, noting that two current members of the community administration had requested improvements to the intersection. He also said the community “had plenty of time” to plan new trees, flowers, or other landscaping needs.

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