Highway 71 Overpass Construction in Cedar Creek

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) plans to construct a new overpass at the intersection of State Highway 71 and Farm to Market Road 1209. One of TxDOT’s main goals with this construction project is to increase safety for commuters along Highway 71. In addition to making the intersection safer, it should also reduce traffic along what has become an increasingly busy road, with nearly 37,000 vehicles passing the intersection each day on average.

The overpass is a part of a larger TxDOT project to eliminate any traffic signals for drivers traveling from Austin to I-10. This includes building similar overpasses along Highway 71’s intersections with Tucker Hill Lane, Pope Bend Road, Ross Road, and Kellam Road in addition to FM 1209. The projects is expected to cost around $34.5 million and construction is not expected to begin until 2020. Of all the overpass projects along Highway 71, the one at the intersection of FM 1209 is expected to be the last to be constructed.

FM 1516 Widening in Converse, Texas

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has proposed a construction project that would widen FM 1516 from I-10 to FM 78 in Converse, Texas in Bexar County. The project would expand FM 1516 from two lanes to four lanes with left turn lanes, and would also include raised medians, bike lanes and new sidewalks on both sides of the road. The road widening and other improvements are expected to cost a total of $23.5 million dollars, and construction is not expected to begin until 2022. TxDOT anticipates only one commercial displacement and no residential displacements to result from the project.

From 2011 to 2015, 81 injury-related crashes occurred on the 3.4 mile stretch of FM 1516 from I-10 to FM 78 where the construction project is set to take place. TxDOT reported that this injury rate was above the state average for this type of roadway and attributed the abnormally high amount of injuries to FM 1516’s outdated rural design that is now serving a suburban community.  The aim of the project is to reduce congestion and improve safety conditions along a portion of FM1516, the traffic of which is expected to double by 2044.

NextDecade Corp. announces Galveston Bay Pipeline

On January 16, 2019 NextDecade Corp. hosted an open house event in Rosenberg, Texas to offer local landowners a glimpse of the company’s proposed Galveston Bay Pipeline project. If approved by regulators, the pipeline will run 97 miles from Katy, Texas to Texas City near Galveston. NextDecade has stated that they intend to build 85 percent of the pipeline along existing right of way, but that the other 15 percent would still need to be negotiated.

Property owners concerned about the Galveston Bay Pipeline should know that construction on the pipeline is not expected to be begin until 2022, and will not be completed until 2027 at the earliest. NextDecade will not file its formal application for the pipeline with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) until the fourth quarter of this year. Upon the approval of this application, FERC will still need to issue an environmental impact statement before NextDecade can begin construction on the Galveston Bay Pipeline. NextDecade also has applications pending to develop a pipeline and export terminal in south Texas near Brownsville.

Oak Hill Parkway Project – Update

The Oak Hill Parkway project, a proposed expansion of US Highway 290 and State Highway 71, recently received environmental clearance following the completion of a six year study evaluating the potential impact of construction along the two highways. The Final Environment Impact Statement, released on December 21st, concluded that Alternative A – a non-tolled 12-lane project – has “fewer social, economic and environmental impacts,” than other proposed construction alternatives for the highways.

More specifically, the Oak Hill Parkway project consists of three main lanes for through traffic and three frontage-road lanes in each direction on both highways. An overpass for the US 290 main lanes over William Cannon Drive would also be built, in addition to flyovers between US 290 and SH 71. Bicycle and pedestrian accommodations would also be incorporated throughout the corridor. The estimated construction cost of the Oak Hill Parkway project is $440 million, and the earliest the project could break ground is 2020. The project is expected to take four years to complete. More information on the project can be found at http://www.oakhillparkway.com/.

Kinder Morgan and EagleClaw Midstream to Construct “Permian Highway Pipeline Project”

On September 5th, 2018 Kinder Morgan and EagleClaw Midstream announced that they have authorized $2 billion for the construction of the Permian Highway Pipeline Project. The pipeline will transport natural gas 430 miles from Fort Stockton in west Texas, to Katy, Texas near Houston. The Permian Highway Pipeline project is expected to carry up to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day through a 42-inch pipeline.

Allen Fore, Vice President of Public Affairs for Kinder Morgan, stated that the pipeline will be buried at least four feet deep, and will require the pipeline company to purchase 50 foot easements from landowners, in addition to 25 to 50 feet work easements. Kinder Morgan also stated that construction on the project should begin in the fall of 2019, and become operational the following year. The pipeline company is already working on the construction of the $1.7 billion Gulf Coast Express pipeline, also running from the Permian Basin to Gulf of Mexico.

Magellan Pipeline Expansion

On July 30th, Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. announced an expansion of the western segment of its refined petroleum products pipeline system in Texas. This expansion, which will increase the capacity of the pipeline form 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 175,000 bpd, will be accomplished by three separate construction projects. First, Magellan will build a new 140 mile pipeline from Hearne to Alexander, Texas following Magellan’s existing pipeline route between the two cities. Secondly, Magellan will be expanding the diameter of this existing pipeline to take on a greater capacity of petroleum products. Lastly, Magellan will construct a connecting pipeline to ExxonMobil Pipeline Company’s terminal in Wink, Texas.

The western segment of pipeline to be expanded runs across Erath, Bosque, McLennan, Falls, and Robertson counties. Magellan estimates that the pipeline expansion project will cost approximately $500 million, and will be completed by mid-2020, depending on the receipt of necessary permits and approvals. The company is also considering the construction of new terminals in Midland and the Delaware Basin.

Plains Pipeline and Exxon Mobil announce New Pipeline

On June 12th of this year, Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. and Exxon Mobil announced that they had begun the process of constructing a new pipeline by signing a letter of intent to pursue the creation of a joint venture. The pipeline, which is still unnamed, will transport crude oil and condensate from Permian basin to the Texas Gulf Coast. More specifically, the pipeline is set to originate in Wink and Midland, Texas and have terminals in Webster, Baytown, and Beaumont.

Importantly, Plains Pipeline and Exxon’s announcement stated that, “a priority would be placed on using existing pipeline corridors to help limit potential community and environmental disruptions.” Based on information from property owners who have received surveying permit requests from Plains Pipeline, it appears that portions of the proposed new Plains / Exxon Mobil pipeline will run parallel to Enterprise Product Partners’ recent “Shin Oak” pipeline.  Neither Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. nor Exxon Mobil has released any updates about the pipeline since their initial announcement in June.

IH-45 Widening in Walker County

The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) has proposed a construction project that would widen two segments of Interstate Highway 45 in the city limits of Huntsville in Walker County. The first of these two segments, Segment 2A, is 4.4 miles long and would run from 0.3 miles north of SH 19 to 0.9 miles north of SH 30. The proposed project would include widening IH-45 from four lanes to six lanes, reconstructing and realigning the main lanes and ramps of the highway, and improving existing frontage roads, crossroads, interchanges, drainage structures, and bridges. The project would also add collector-distributor roads to IH-45, which connect the main highway to frontage roads. The road widening project and its improvements would require 11.5 additional acres of right-of-way, displacing four commercial structures.

The second segment of the proposed project, Segment 2B, is 4.7 miles long, and would run from SH 30 to 0.7 miles south of FM 1696. The project would also widen IH-45 from four to six lanes, and includes the same improvements as Segment 2A, with the exception of adding in collector-distributor roads. This segment of the project would also relocate the interchanges of SH 75 to near San Jacinto Street (west of I-45) and Moffett Springs Road (east of I-45). TXDoT has not stated how many additional acres of right-of-way this segment would require. On August, 9th TXDoT held a public hearing in the Walker County Storm Shelter in Huntsville, Texas to gather public input on the proposed road widening project. Construction on Segment 2A is estimated to begin in the fall of 2021, while construction on Segment 2B is estimated to begin in the fall of 2023.

US 79 Expansion near Round Rock

The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) is currently considering an expansion of US Highway-79, between I-35 and FM 1460 in the city of Round Rock in Williamson County. The proposed project would widen the stretch of highway by an additional lane in each direction, with the possibility for new overpasses to be constructed. Additionally, the project would include a raised median and intersection improvements, as well as modifications to driveways and access points along US 79 to improve safety and traffic flow. TXDoT will be holding an open house in the PFC Robert P. Hernandez Middle School Cafeteria on August 23rd at 5:30 p.m. to gain public input on the proposed improvements.

Round Rock residents have complained in recent years about the continually worsening traffic along US 79, which less than two decades ago was relatively traffic free. Unfortunately, the city’s quickly growing population has caused traffic in the area to skyrocket. From 2015 to 2016 alone, the number of cars traveling on US 79 just east of I-35 increased by 7.5%, while traffic on the same highway increased by 8.5% near FM 1460. TXDoT has already added a new left turn lane on US 79 to alleviate the increase in traffic, but has yet to announce specific start and end dates for the road widening project.

Permian 2 Katy Pipeline (P2K)

Sempra LNG & Midstream and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP are jointly developing the Permian 2 Katy Pipeline (P2K). The proposed pipeline will connect the Permian Basin to the Texas Gulf Coast and Mexico. The pipelines will harvest natural gas from the Waha Oil Fields near Pecos in Reeves and Ward counties. One of the terminal points will be southeast of Katy, while the other terminus will travel south of Rosenberg to the Houston Ship Channel. The project lists the potential benefit of shipping the exports to Mexico or beyond, given the demand for natural gas supplies. The pipeline will be 42-inches and 36-inches in diameter

In April 2018, the pipeline received its initial permit issued from the Railroad Commission of Texas. The permit lists the following counties that will be impacted by this pipeline: Austin, Burnet, Crane, Irion, Lee, McCulloch, Menard, Pecos, Reagan, Reeves, San Saba, Schleicher, Upton, Waller, Washington, Wharton, and Williamson. The pipeline is projected to be up and running by 2020, Quarter 3.