In Other News: Flyover Edition

Oak Ridge's Makenna Spencer is featured on Channel 39's Newsfix program as a Class Act.

Lots of stuff happens every day in our community, and we don’t have the staff to cover everything. And sometimes we don’t even hear about it here at Oak Ridge Now until we read it somewhere else. But you might not have heard about it either, so we once again bring you another edition of In Other News.

We’ve had a surprisingly crime-free couple of weeks in our area. Oh, I am sure there were some crimes committed – they just were not major enough to make any of the police blotters. We did have some governmental feather ruffling, however, and the associated resolutions and carefully worded statements to the press.

The big topic the last couple of weeks has been the proposed “flyover” – an overpass exit from I-45 to Research Forest Drive intended to alleviate congestion at the current intersection of the I-45 feeder road and Research Forest. If you’ve spent any time at 6:00 pm at that intersection on a hot summer day with a broken air conditioner, you can well understand why a better traffic solution here is desired.

A proposed project to build the flyover was submitted to the Houston Galveston Area Council, who has about $400M available for area transportation projects. The project was one of three, totaling an estimated $15M, submitted by The Woodlands Road Utility District No. 1.

Robert Heineman, vice president of planning for The Woodlands Development Company, claimed there was no time to consult with the City of Oak Ridge North or the City of Shenandoah before submitting the projects.

That apparently means that the ten minutes for a couple of phone calls was just going to be too much, and would delay getting the proposal delivered in the required time frame. Perhaps they learned about the proposal the morning of the deadline, wrote up something on the back of a napkin (or built a small model constructed of straws, toothpicks and sugar packets), and got it submitted just in time.

My favorite quote from the article was, “the flyover would not have a negative effect on the shopping areas in Oak Ridge North along Interstate 45. In fact, he said it could help by freeing up the access roads allowing shoppers easier access to the businesses.” Because, you know, nobody ever goes to Baker Street or Salt Grass any more because of the traffic.

After resolutions by the the city councils in Oak Ridge North and Shenandoah to oppose the project as submitted, members of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors amended their previous resolution supporting the flyover to indicate support for a mutually-agreed upon traffic solution (but not necessarily a flyover).

So what other solutions are really viable? I mean, a flyover would take passing traffic away from Red Robin and Lupe Tortilla and the other places along I-45 that people might pass up going home from Houston to The Woodlands. I’m not sure a flyover alone would put those places out of business, but it could surely affect their bottom lines. But what else could they do? You’d have to wipe out Home Depot’s parking lot to put in place a 270 degree circle exit like they have at Lake Woodlands going to the mall. You could employ traffic cops during peak traffic times at that intersection, but is that really feasible? And how much would it ultimately speed things up? What other solutions could there be?

Also note that while the Woodlands Township BoD approved a resolution to find an acceptable solution, nobody has rescinded the original proposal from the HGAC. Maybe they’ll amend it, but I suspect they’ll run out of time. In the end we’ll either have a flyover or the HGAC will look at the objections and simply fund a project somewhere else. And sitting at that intersection on a hot afternoon will still be no fun.

In other government silliness, James Noack, the Republican nominee for Precinct 3 commissioner, surely made a fine impression upon the folks he wants to work with in the future. He asked that the county commissioners limit current Precinct 3 commissioner Ed Chance’s spending to 25% of his annual budget, and require commissioner’s court approval for anything above that amount.

Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador responded, “[Ed Chance has] been there 25 years. To me, it’s an insult. He’s professional and dedicated. I could see it if he was a longtime incumbent and got beat and was pissed off. He’s a tremendous commissioner and an asset to Montgomery County. That was pointed at Commissioner Chance. I wouldn’t vote that.”

Mr. Noack apparently will learn that governing is not as easy as getting elected. You have to actually work with other people, and compromise when necessary. Good luck getting your own pet projects approved by the people you’ve pissed off before even getting elected, Mr. Noack.

Luckily, the City of Oak Ridge North seems to take a little more care in making difficult decisions. They announced they’d have to increase the rates for water and sewage services due to the replacement of outdated infrastructure, but they also were able to hold the line on monthly garbage pickup fees. They considered all the possibilities, and came up with an innovative solution, keeping in mind the needs of their residents. That’s the way local government is supposed to work.

We’ve been covering Oak Ridge High School sports fairly closely this fall, but it’s always good to take a look what other folks are saying about our War Eagles. Glenn Sattell of Woodlands Online, who has been covering South County sports for over 20 years now, has a nice article and pictures on the War Eagles’ win over College Park. The Villager also has a story and a few pics from the big game. Earlier the ORHS Aerial View ran story on how difficult it is to fight through a losing season.

Woodlands Online ran a story and photos of the Lady Ware Eagles’ loss to the Cavaliers last Friday. That loss notwithstanding, the Aerial View chimes in with some reasons why the ORHS volleyball team is really having a good season. Finally in sports, the Aerial View gives us a pre-season preview of the Oak Ridge High School swim team, whose first meet comes this week.

Channel 39’s Newsfix ran a nice interview with Oak Ridge High School’s Makenna Spencer for its weekly Class Act segment. We agree with them that Makenna’s a class act, and will have our own feature story on her in the coming weeks.

Milstead Automotive will be hosting a Fall Classic Car Show on October 20th, with all proceeds going to Montgomery County Youth Services. Meanwhile, Benders Landing Estates hosted its inaugural Live Well Give Well Project land sales event on Sept. 22, and was able to raise $8,000 for the Montgomery County Women’s Center. Also, throughout the month of October, Lone Star College-Montgomery is partnering with the Conroe Noon Lions Club to collect old or used eyeglasses, lens, frames, and even cell phones in buckets placed on campus As part of the “Lions Recycle for Sight” initiative, the Lions Club will take the donations to recycle or distribute to needy people locally and overseas at no charge. Nice work on all accounts, folks.

Speaking of Lone Star College, tomorrow night they will be presenting a jazz concert featuring unforgettable love songs. No word yet on whether or not The Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You” will be included. If jazz is not your thing, maybe the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival is. The annual festival goes on this weekend, Friday the 12th through Sunday the 14th. Good entertainment, food, fun, carnival rides, and of course, catfish will highlight the festivities. Note that you’ll probably want to go Friday night (no football game) or Sunday (after church) so you can save Saturday for Oak Ridge’s own Nest Fest.

Finally this week, The Villager has a story about Gooses Acre, a nice little pub in Waterway Square. You should check it out. I personally recommend the fish and chips or the Monte Cristo. Make sure you ask for Kiel to be your waiter. And tip him well — our family could use the extra money.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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