Plan adds 3rd lane from I-10 to Baker Road
CLEAR LAKE — Having put a feather in its cap with the completion of San Jacinto Boulevard, Baytown City Council is turning its eyes toward what assistant city manager Nick Woolery termed a generational project.
It is time to focus on widening Garth Road.
During a planning session retreat Saturday morning, support was voiced to make improvements on Garth Road a priority in the upcoming budget. No action was taken, but city staff will begin the groundwork for council’s approval.
“At this point, we are going to do it or not,” Woolery told council.
Much of the conversation in the planning session related to looking at Baytown’s future, particularly in terms of transportation and mobility. And when it comes to mobility in Baytown, Garth Road is one of the most traveled thoroughfares in the city.
The 5.2 miles of pavement is host to the city’s biggest retail chains and new businesses are popping up monthly.
Chances are the average person running errands in Baytown will cross Garth Road at least once, even if they aren’t trying to.
Traffic, and specifically on Garth, has been the No. 1 concern for Baytown residents for many years.
During the meeting, Mayor Brandon Capetillo noted with the regret the city’s infrastructure had been let go in the past.
“We are playing a hefty price now,” he said.
The cost of the full Garth Road project is $50 million, of which the city would pay $32 million. The road itself would be widened to three lanes on both sides from Baker Road to I-10 with a median. Woolery said preliminary design work indicates widening Garth Road south of Baker is not feasible.
The project could carry an additional price tag of up to $12 million should the council opt to place utilities underground. Utility poles on Garth Road are currently thought of as an eyesore. City Manager Rick Davis pointed out the switch could come with a cost to businesses along Garth Road because they are on different electrical feeds.
“They will have to reconfigure their electrical panel,” Davis said.
It was suggested the city could provide financial assistance to offset the expense to Garth Road businesses.
In terms of offsetting expenses, Woolery said there are programs available for financial assistance in the project. Councilman Bob Hoskins also spoke in support of gaining funding from the Houston-Galveston Area Council, of which Baytown is a sitting member.
Davis said the city is looking at various instruments to underwrite the costs with the current budget and will then look at various funding sources.
“I think it is worth it,” Capetillo said. “I take there is a consensus here that it is worth it and you are willing to address Garth Road.
“We can be the council that finally addresses it.”
It will come at a cost for the upcoming year, as it will be the focus of the upcoming budget.
“As we got into the budget, that is the top and there may not be much below it,” Woolery said.
While substantial, the cost appears something the council is willing to accept.
“We need to do it right,” David Himsel said.