Friday, October 25, 2013

The Blue Heron Parkway Revisited

I wish to officially retract my many derisive statements about the Baker Road Extension.  I didn’t vote for it and I sure as heck fire didn’t see where anyone would profit from it except the land owners.  On top of that, I didn’t see the intensity of exponential growth this little tri-city oil town was going to suddenly experience.
The Blue Heron Parkway/Baker Road Extension

Well, to be honest, I suspected we were going to see major growth.  Anyone traveling the Fred Hartman bridge from the Baytown/La Porte Tunnel days knows the amount of vehicles going over the bridge has went from, “Boy, this sure is a lot of bridge for this few cars,” to “Mine Gott!  Where is the cow-catcher I ordered for the front of my pick-em-up truck?”

Living directly behind the expansion, I’ve taken a very personal interest in what is now named, the Blue Heron Parkway - a cool sounding water-loving bird name and very fitting for our multiple bay town.  My interest has been serious enough to get the skinny from the workers, engineers, city officials, and our mayor as I ride my bicycle up and down it.

Nick Woolery, Asst to the City Manager, has been a plethora of information.  Many believe the project is stalled and hearing the machinery every day, I know it’s not.  “The project is on track and we are anticipating the project to be completed by the beginning of March.  The reason you haven’t seen much activity on the project near North Main is because of work being done near the pipeline that runs just east of North Main.  Once this work is complete and traffic signal improvements at North Main and Blue Heron Parkway (BHP) are done, you will start seeing more progress from N. Main.”

There are three detention ponds being built.  Pond A is north of the extension and behind a N. Main storage facility.  It will be visible from the extension.  Pond C is on the curve on Hartman Drive and these two are to handle the current drainage needs.  “Once the project is completed, these ponds will be conveyed to the Harris County Flood Control District and they will be responsible for maintenance. “

Behind my house is a giant retention/detention pond.  “The larger detention pond on the east side of the project (Pond B) is to handle drainage needs from future development along BHP.  You are correct that it will drain into Cary Bayou.”
Detention/Retention Pond B
“North of Detention Pond B is additional detention area that will be used for recreational purposes.  As of now, it’s planned for future recreational purposes like softball and baseball practice fields and a
small parking area, but this is not currently funded.  We will construct these amenities at a later date.  We have received donations to plant new trees in this area, however.  Once the construction is complete, we will proceed with planting new trees in this detention area.”

“Along BHP will be 5-foot sidewalks on the north side of the road and 10-foot sidewalks on the south side of the road.  The larger sidewalk is suitable for walking and biking.  As you mentioned, there is also an 8-foot sidewalk that will run from the intersection of Blue Heron Parkway and Barkuloo road, down to the pipeline easement and over to Detention Pond B, passing through Barkuloo Park on the way.”

When I asked about a walking trail around the pond, he told me:  “There are plans to extend the trail around the new Detention Pond B in the future, but it’s not part of this project.  As funds become available, we’ll construct a trail around the detention area and build the recreational amenities.  The same goes for extending the sidewalk across Sjolander Road and the railroad tracks to Jenkins Park.  We certainly have future plans to make this happen, but it’s not a part of this road construction project.”
Crockett Elementary Expansion
In response to the Crockett Elementary roadwork, he replied: “…this is a separate project, but it’s being done in connection with the opening of BHP.  The school is re-configuring their driveway to accommodate more vehicles and help keep the vehicles that are waiting off the public streets.”  They will also put up a heavy-duty fence along the parkway to protect the children.

“As for the medians in the project.  Our Parks and Recreation staff designed the medians for Blue Heron Parkway.  They used similar design standards as you see throughout Baytown (see Baker Road, N. Alexander, etc.).  The project you see on North Main, north of I-10, is a county project.”
Giant mound of dirt belongs to Angel Brothers
 The giant mound of dirt at the end of the airport runway has caused much speculation.  “The dirt from the project will belong to the contractor, Angel Brothers.  I don’t know what their plans are for the dirt, but that’s not something the City is involved with.”

“You asked about annexation in the area.  There are no immediate plans to annex the general area into the City.  As is the usual practice, annexation will happen as development occurs and is generally limited to the area developed.  Sometimes it is necessary to annex across undeveloped property to reach a new development.  As is the case with all annexations, when they are proposed there will be plenty of notice and opportunity given to residents to provide comment throughout the process.”
 Finally, I addressed the rumor that once the BH Pkwy is finished, the airport runway will be lengthened:  “In regards to East Cedar Bayou Lynchburg being closed to lengthen the airport runway, this is not true.  East Cedar Bayou Lynchburg is a County road and is under the jurisdiction of Harris County.  However, there are no plans to close this road, even after Blue Heron Parkway opens and the City would be opposed to any such closure.”


Anonymous said...

So it sounds like it will be nice :) HC

Anonymous said...

I think it's a goofy name. Are there blue herons there? However, for some dumb reason, E. Baker is in Chaparral Village subdivision. I mean what were the the developers thinking? Have W. Baker funnel into a neighborhood eventually? To me "parkway" screams speed on me. Just my opinion. P62

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