A Townsen Bridge Across Spring Creek?
Developers are working toward building a bridge over Spring Creek and a road that would connect Townsen Boulevard in Humble with the Grand Parkway in Montgomery County. However, City and County authorities on both sides of the county line say they know nothing tangible about the bridge yet.
I’ve talked to several engineers about this property. One said that if the bridge gets built, it will open thousands of acres to development. A second said that if the property gets developed, it would be like “aiming a firehose at Kingwood and Humble.” A third cautioned that when the developer sees the new floodway and floodplain maps, a bridge will likely become cost prohibitive.
The developers in question have not returned calls, but here’s what we know so far based on publicly available information and several Freedom-of-Information-Act Requests.
Bridge Rumored for More than a Decade
The Army Corps of Engineers first issued a permit for a bridge in 2009. Last year, it issued an extension of the permit that requires completion of the work by 12/31/2026.
However, the Montgomery County Engineer’s Office and Harris County Flood Control say no one has applied for any permits with them yet to actually build a bridge. Regardless…
Company Purchases Land, Sets Up Mitigation Companies
The landowner on the north side of Spring Creek has purchased a small parcel of land on the south side of the creek at the current terminus of the Townsen Blvd. extension. Thus they would control the land needed for a bridge.
Pacific Indio controls another company called the Townsen Road Association and has also set up two mitigation companies. The latter are significant because the Army Corps permit contains an extensive discussion of mitigation needs.
MoCo Transportation Plan and Developers Promotional Material Show Bridge, Road
The Montgomery County Transportation Plan shows the extension of Townsen north to the Grand Parkway from where Townsen currently ends at Spring Creek.
Also, a sign on westbound Grand Parkway indicates an exit for Townsen, but the road does not go through yet. Does TxDOT know something we don’t?
Another company, Skymark, also has considerable floodplain holdings in Montgomery County under a variety of corporate shells, such as Hannover Estates, Headway Estates and the CFW Family Limited Partnership. The Secretary of State SOS Direct database shows that Skymark principal Clinton F. Wong controls 231 companies including Townsen Holdings and Townsen Landing.
The Montgomery County Appraisal District website shows that many of Wong’s holdings border Pacific Indio’s. And Skymark owns most of the land south of Spring Creek where the bridge would be built. See more below.
References in Intercontinental MUD Minutes
June 2022 minutes of the Intercontinental MUD board meeting reference Townsen Mitigation, one of Pacific Indio’s subsidiaries.
The minutes also reference a settlement between the EPA and Skymark.
Purchase Offer Reportedly Turned Down
Harris County Flood Control reportedly offered to buy this land several years ago, but Ryko wanted “an insane amount of money.” This could have been an indication that the owner felt confident in its ability to develop the land and profit from it.
…But Project Would be Very Difficult to Develop
FEMA shows large floodways and floodplains on both sides of the creek that any road would have to go over or through. Keep in mind that the map below does not yet show the new Post-Harvey flood hazards. They will reportedly expand by 50- to 100%.
Permit plans also show at least 9 other stream crossings along the way north. Those would expand, too, with the new floodplain maps.
Finally, the project would cross numerous wetlands.
The Bender Estate, which previously owned approximately 800 acres of undeveloped land in the northwest quadrant of Humble, granted a Right-Of-Way easement to Ryko Development to construct a road that would ultimately cross Spring Creek and service the planned development between Spring Creek and 99 on the Pacific-Indio Property.
Skymark Development later purchased those 800 acres from the Bender Estate and started to develop them.
According to Jason Stuebe, Humble City Manager, after Humble began to re-construct Townsen, Ryko presented the easement to Humble and stated they intended to connect into Townsen Blvd.
This caused consternation as it didn’t fit with the city’s plans for reconstructing Townsend. All parties (including Ryko and Skymark) went to court. They reached a settlement sometime in 2018 that gave Ryko two years to begin constructing the roadway.
EPA Delays Road
However, a cease-and-desist order from the EPA delayed the work; Skymark inappropriately filled in some wetlands elsewhere on its property. Once the EPA recognized that Ryko’s road was not affiliated with the wetlands issue, EPA allowed Ryko to proceed with constructing the road.
In 2019, Humble City Council approved the plat dedicating the roadway as a public Right-Of-Way once completed. Then COVID delayed the road again. An exception to the settlement was made. Construction has since resumed, albeit slowly.
Stuebe stated, “Because the road actually leads out of our jurisdiction, I have no further information on the status of its permitting with either Harris County or the state with regard to crossing Spring Creek. Once the roadway is completed, inspected and approved by the City Engineer and Public Works, it will become a right of way of Humble.”
I suspect that the bridge is more of a dream than a done deal at this point. Despite obstacles, attempts are being made to put all the pieces of the puzzle into place. But high hurdles remain.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/19/22
1908 Days since Hurricane Harvey
The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.