Atascocita, Texas- On Dec. 21.2022, the Timber Forest Drive Bridge Over Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) in Harris County Precinct 3 was completed just in time for the Centennial Elementary spring semester. The Harris County Engineering Department (HCED) partnered with Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom S. Ramsey’s Office and local stakeholders to build a bridge for a rapidly expanding part of Harris County.
“The Lake Houston area is booming with growth, and it’s these types of partnerships that help communities flourish,” said Commissioner Tom Ramsey, P.E. “Humble ISD does great work with our children, parents, and overall community, and I am proud to have been a part of this with them.”
According to the most recent census, Atascocita is growing at a rate of 2.41 percent annually and its population has increased by 7.6 percent since 2020. Centennial Elementary, located in Humble ISD, opened in 2020 to accommodate student enrollment growth in one of the fastest-growing school districts in Texas.
“The Timber Forest Bridge reduces traffic along West Lake Houston Parkway and provides a more efficient route for school buses and families,” said Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, Humble ISD Superintendent.
In an effort to cut travel time to school in half, Superintendent Dr. Fagen formed a partnership with Harris County. According to the agreement, Humble ISD paid $950,000, and the county contributed the rest for the bridge, which cost approximately $6.67 million. With existing roadwork underway, HCED worked with KB Homes and Land Tejas to integrate the 575-foot bridge. KB Homes completed the southwest roadway, while Land Tejas constructed the northwest roadway.
“Without the bridge, children in the nearby communities would have to travel around West Lake Houston Parkway to get to school, which would be miles out of their way because there was no bridge,” said Michael Turner P.E., HCED Project Design Manager.
An environmental study concluded that the proposed construction site was historically inactive land until recent years. Besides a few plugged and abandoned oil/gas wells, railroad tracks and proposed waterline easements, the project site had limited access. However, nearby was an up-and-coming neighborhood consisting of single-family homes, homes in construction and land waiting to be developed for subdivisions. With safety in mind, not constructing an at-grade crossing but rather building a bridge over the UPRR tracks to connect nearby neighborhoods to Centennial Elementary was a no-brainer.
In addition to the bridge, an 8-foot sidewalk runs the length of the bridge in each direction, providing additional safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The project took four years to complete and is expected to reduce the number of trips to Centennial Elementary over the course of a school year by thousands of miles.
For more information about the Timber Forest Drive Bridge, please contact Raimundo Dovalina, P.E., at firstname.lastname@example.org.