Tag Archive for: Matt Gray

New MoCo Commissioner Matt Gray Discusses Development, Drainage Plans with Kingwood Group

New Montgomery County Precinct 4 Commissioner Matt Gray addressed a breakfast meeting of the Kingwood Executive Group today. Gray, who comes from the oil-and-gas industry, has a background in managing large maintenance/construction projects. Just six months into his new job, he has wasted no time in applying that expertise to Montgomery County.

The no-nonsense, get-it-done commissioner emphasized both service to constituents and action.

Balancing Development and Drainage

EPA research suggests that highly urbanized areas can increase stormwater runoff by 45% while reducing infiltration by 50%. And Matt Gray’s precinct is rapidly becoming urbanized. He began his talk with some alarming statistics about growth in his Precinct 4 which borders the Lake Houston Area.

Entergy, a worldwide power provider which also services Montgomery County, says the average growth rate for its network is 1.7%. But during the last three years, MoCo Precinct 4 has had an average growth rate between 5% and 7%.

Montgomery County Precinct 4 Commissioner Matt Gray addresses Kingwood Executive Group
Matt Gray addressing Kingwood Executive Group on 7/12/23.

Entergy claims they have installed more meters in Precinct 4 than they have in the states of Mississippi and Arkansas combined.

Matt Gray, MoCo Precinct 4 Commissioner

All that development is happening upstream from the Lake Houston Area. Moreover, the rest of Montgomery County drains through Precinct 4. So, simultaneously managing growth and drainage have become two of Matt Gray’s key concerns.

Gray talked about working with engineers revising/updating the Montgomery County drainage criteria manual and subdivision rules. He affirmed the need for stormwater detention requirements that will protect not only his own residents but those downstream as well.

Another huge issue: siltation that affects both roadside ditches and local streams. Gray has mobilized crews to make sure water can drain efficiently.

Since assuming office in January, Gray has launched an aggressive effort to clear ditches of accumulated sediment.

Road Improvements, Evacuation Routes

Mindful that many people in both Harris and Montgomery Counties use his roads as evacuation routes, Gray also addressed at length road improvement projects in southeast Montgomery County.

He’s focusing on arterial improvements.

  • Crews are already widening Ford Road.
  • He’s working with TxDoT to improve access between Highway 99 and other major arteries.
  • Northpark Drive widening and the construction of a Loop 494/Railroad overpass should begin any day now.

Such projects will improve key evacuation routes during storms as well as the everyday quality of life for residents and commerce for business owners.

Other Priorities, Wish List

Gray’s other priorities include:

  • Cleanup and beautification
  • Repaving/restriping roads
  • Improving park maintenance
  • Mosquito control
  • Construction of a recycling center which would include the handling of old appliances

This presentation catalogs Gray’s impressive list of accomplishments during his first six months as well as his wish list for the future.

Gray in the tan blazer, front row, surrounded by members of the Kingwood Executive Group.

Importance of Working Together

An interesting side note that underscores the importance of working across the county line! The meeting room this morning flooded to the top of the photo above. It cost the Kingwood Country Club more than $50 million to renovate the facility after Harvey. The renovation took almost exactly two years.

The club was just one of 3,300 businesses in the Lake Houston Area that flooded in that storm, which also damaged 16,000 homes.

I’ve written several stories recently about cut-throat politicians pursuing self-interest. So, it’s refreshing to see someone in Gray’s position, willing to work across jurisdictional boundaries for the benefit of all. Good luck, Matt Gray.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/12/2023

2173 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Northpark Drive Expansion Starting Today

On 4/13/23 at 8 A.M. sharp, Northpark Drive expansion started after 10 years of planning. Dignitaries gathered in the parking lot of a local business for the groundbreaking ceremony even as surveyors were already working father east and Harper Brothers Construction started prepositioning equipment.

This project will make Kingwood safer in the next big flood. It will also make the Livable Forest more livable by reducing traffic congestion.

Ceremonial Kickoff

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin, Council Member-at-Large Sally Alcorn, the board of the Lake Houston Area Redevelopment Authority, and Montgomery County Precinct 4 Commissioner Matt Gray all grabbed shovels for the ceremonial kickoff.

Gray will coordinate with the City on this project. Even though it is within the City, Phase One falls entirely in Montgomery County.

Martin acted as master of ceremonies and reminded everyone of the work the late TIRZ Chairman Stan Sarman did to keep this project moving through the years.

How Project Began

Martin called this the first major infrastructure project in Kingwood since the West Lake Houston Parkway Bridge was built between 1990 and 1992. He also provided a brief history of the project. More than a decade ago, the City considered expanding Kingwood Drive.

Traffic studies showed that Kingwood Drive ranked as the most congested thoroughfare in the City and was among the most dangerous. However, the community’s desire to preserve the trees along Kingwood Drive – one of the signature attractions of the community – put that project on indefinite hold.

The City then began looking at Northpark Drive as an alternative. It was ranked the fifth most congested thoroughfare in the City and also one of the most dangerous.

Benefits of Project

Martin emphasized the benefits of the project during emergencies, such as Hurricane Harvey, which virtually turned Kingwood into an island. He also talked about the increasing length of trains and how they could block Kingwood Drive, Northpark and Ford Road simultaneously.

Martin said that the Northpark Drive expansion will provide a bridge over the railroad tracks and Loop 494 that lets citizens, firetrucks and ambulances enter and exit Kingwood 24/7/365 without delay. The City will also raise Northpark in places that frequently flood, i.e., at the diversion ditch and over Bens Branch.

Culverts will replace the ditch now down the center of Northpark Drive so the thoroughfare can expand to six lanes.

Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin

The first phase of the project from 59 to the Kingwood Diversion Ditch should take about two years to complete. Traffic frequently backs up most of this distance, especially when trains pass through the area.

Pictures of Groundbreaking

Below are pictures that show today’s ceremony and scope of the project.

Martin (left) and Turner (right) kicked off the ceremony by talking about the need for the project and thanking all those present for their support.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has only eight and a half months left in office, drew a laugh from the crowd when he quipped that residents could complain to someone else about traffic delays during construction.
First shovels in a two year project. Gray, Martin and Turner are fourth, fifth and sixth from left respectively. Traffic backed up in background underscores need for project.
Looking SW. Drone shot taken as event (bottom middle) was breaking up also shows where bridge will go over UP railroad tracks and Loop 494 in upper right.
Looking west. Another drone shot taken on previous afternoon at 3PM shows inbound traffic backed up all the way to 59 in background .
Looking east toward Kingwood. First phase of project will go to end of ditch at top of frame.

Construction always entails some pain. But the benefits will far outweigh any inconvenience. I can’t wait to be one of the first to drive over the bridge that will alleviate the perpetual congestion at the intersection above.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/13/2023

2053 Days since Hurricane Harvey