By Betsy Dolan
Public opinion will be a large component of the City of Sugar Land’s efforts to connect the rapidly growing Riverstone Development in its extraterritorial jurisdiction with the Sweetwater area on Commonwealth Boulevard.
The City Council agreed on October 16 to spend almost $90,000 on a transportation study and traffic analysis for the area after the initial plan,which involved linking Riverstone to Commonwealth via LJ Parkway (formerly Spine Road) near Palm Royale, was sidelined due to resident opposition and to legal hurdles involving utility components in the area. The study by Kimley, Horn and Associates, will involve at least three public meetings and will look at all of the options in the area, including the city’s investment in University Boulevard.
“We need to look at additional things like how to incorporate University Boulevard and the continuation of it … tying Highway 6 all the way back to 59 and eventually to 90A on the north side of town,” said Chip Steubing, City Engineer. The study will include LJ Parkway, University, Scenic Rivers, Commonweath Boulevard, Austin Parkway and Palm Royale, Steubing said.
The city has plans to build 600 multi-family units in Riverstone which city engineers have said also increases the need for additional access in and out of the subdivision.
A 2003 development agreement between the city and Riverstone developer, Johnson Development, identified the need for an eventual link between Riverstone and Commonwealth. This summer, an updated Master Thoroughfare Plan, which included the LJ Parkway/Palm Royale link, made the rounds through Planning & Zoning and City Council. During public hearings, some residents spoke out against the plan, stating it would disrupt the quality of life in their neighborhoods.
An existing connection between Scenic Dr. (formerly Oil Field Road) and Commonwealth was suggested as an alternative and residents also wanted to reclassify Palm Royale as a minor collector road, instead of a major collector due to limited visibility from trees and curves in the road. After a speedy study, the city lowered Palm Royale’s speed limit from 40 mph to 35 mph in early October.
The new study will take approximately four months to complete. Homeowners and HOA’s will be contacted regarding public meetings on the issue.
“Our first traffic impact analysis was a 30,000 foot view,” Steubing said. “Now we want to take it down to get better detail on travel demand, and the traffic situation in that area with their development and growth.”