It’s been about nine months since Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia took the oath of office — a stretch that has included some disasters within the precinct.
Speaking Tuesday at a Baytown Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Garcia outlined his efforts in addressing these issues in the precinct to improve conditions for all residents.
Garcia said one of the first meetings he had when he started was with the Texas Department of Transportation to express the need to improve Interstate 10, specifically the San Jacinto Bridge, which was recently struck by a barge for the second time this year.
“That bridge is a problem,” Garcia said. “If we’re going to keep industry going then we have to accelerate ideas and concepts for I-10.”
He said the constant traffic on the interstate is not good for business, is not good for public safety and is an issue that will take a collective effort.
“These are the things I’ve worked hard on at the start my administration. It’s important we encourage our respective partners to think collaboratively on how we can get something done sooner rather than later,” Garcia said. “One of the things we talked about is a collaboration between the Harris County Toll Road Authority, Metro and
TxDOT specifically on I-10.”
Garcia identified the need to be creative and need for a willingness to fight for funding to solve the issue that I-10 and the San Jacinto Bridge currently pose.
“We have to raise the flag on these issues, we have to fight for the resources, we have to be willing to push the envelope, and that’s precisely what I’m doing,” Garcia said.
Another major concern among all of Harris County, and of Garcia and Pct. 2 residents, is flooding. Garcia said it’s critical that flood bond projects are done well, as quickly as possible, as cost-effectively as possible and they’re completed with standard engineering projects in mind.
“This is the way I see it, and we have to do this as quickly as possible because as Tropical Storm Imelda taught us mother nature isn’t going to wait until we finish 10 years of flood control problems,” Garcia said.
With about $14 million in active projects, Garcia said many of those would impact Baytown.
Garcia added the county is leveraging about $270 million over three years in projects within Pct. 2, most of which are in the periphery of Baytown and unincorporated parts of the precinct.
Garcia also touched on data points of Pct. 2 having the lowest median income of all of Harris County, which is related to the precinct having the lowest homeownership percentage.
Garcia also noted Pct. 2’s residents had among the lowest educational attainment on the high school and post-high school level. Furthermore, Pct. 2 has the highest number of children and families without health insurance who also have one of the highest rates of cancer in Texas.
“Those are the things that when I wake up every day and my feet hit the ground, I don’t have to wonder what I’m going to be doing that day,” Garcia said. “I have my priorities, and it’s my job to ensure that I do all I can to leave Pct. 2 better than how I got it.”
At the close of Garcia’s presentation, Baytown Chamber member Tom Cottar asked if Garcia would participate in bringing the Battleship Texas to Baytown.
“The community of Baytown is very proud of its past, its present and its future. Bringing all that into focus is the elephant in the room, which is the Battleship Texas,” Cottar said. “Many of us would love for that ship to be repaired and (brought) to Baytown.”
Cottar then asked what the possibility was of Harris County Pct. 2 helping with this endeavor.
“Without a doubt (Pct. 2 will help),” Garcia said in response.
The county commissioner said he’s already had conversations with Texas Historical Commission to discuss how they can create an amenity to bring tourism attraction to the area that will feed not only the San Jacinto Monument but the Battleship Texas as well.
“The Battleship Texas does not need to be in Galveston. It needs to be right here in Pct. 2,” Garcia said.