In this series – One City, One Baytown – I’ve done my best to place a spotlight on some of the major projects your city is undertaking in order to build a Better Baytown. Some of these projects, like the San Jacinto Mall and the Hyatt Regency hotel and convention center, are poised to bring growth to our local economy and the construction impact should be minimal. Residents and visitors to Baytown will experience very little disruption to their daily routine while these incredible amenities are built.
Other projects, like the one I’m writing about today, will support the growing local economy but will have a tremendous impact to your routine, and it’s important we all start talking about it sooner, rather than later. The project is the widening of Garth Road.
The Garth Road Widening Project includes reconstructing and widening the existing Garth Road roadway from four to six lanes from I-10 south to Baker Road. Garth Road, one of the most heavily utilized roads in Baytown, may be part of your daily commute to work or home to your favorite store, and it’s time to start mapping alternate routes.
Baytownians know that Garth Road is heavily congested, and based on future growth projections for the region, Garth will become even more congested without adding capacity to the roadway. In addition to widening the road, this project will also improve safety for all users, including cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. In the end, Baytown will have a wider, safer path for everyone, and will be able to boast improved intersections and creative art features along the way.
Garth Road will look quite different when the project is complete. There will be three lanes in each direction north of Baker Road, with a median dividing traffic. A sidewalk will be constructed on one side of the road, and a 10-foot shared use path will be constructed on the other side of the road. Old traffic signals will be replaced with black signals, similar to what you see in other recent Baytown roadway projects. All electrical poles will be replaced, and electrical lines will be cleaned up. Telecommunication lines will be buried to improve the appearance and safety for pedestrians. Landscaping and public art will be installed in select locations along the corridor.
Luckily, there is enough city-owned right-of-way to accomplish all this without having to acquire additional private property.
Although an official start date for construction has not been established yet, we should have a contractor onboard and mobilized within the first six months of 2022. Initial construction will be related to underground utilities. So as not to shut down the major artery completely during construction, the project will be divided into at least five phases over the course of eight years. The first two phases will be constructed together and completed first: these sections extend from I-10 to just south of Archer Road.
We want to complete this project as soon as possible, minimizing the time our residents and businesses will be inconvenienced. The contractor will generally be allowed to work six days per week, and 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, weather permitting. Certainly, there will be detours set up, but you may want to start thinking now how you can get around the area without having to use Garth Road. Fortunately, as part of our mobility planning, San Jacinto Boulevard, the Hunt road extension, and other roadway improvements were made to help mitigate the expected traffic impacts during Garth Road reconstruction.
Funding for this major project comes primarily from the federal Surface Transportation Block Grant program, and some will be from the city’s general fund.
For the latest news on this project, and to read more about what’s coming, go to www.baytownengage.com.
There’s no doubt this massive project will be painful, and we are doing everything we can to minimize the negative impacts to your drive through town. Keep in mind, sometimes growing pains hurt, but the end result and benefits are certainly worth it, and it’s all part in making a Better Baytown.
Next week, I will write about several new city facilities being built to serve you better: the animal services and public safety campuses.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year. 2021 brought new challenges to us all, but once again we have prospered and became stronger as a community. I wish you good health and many blessings.