June 17, 2021

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Fort Bend County transportation bond to fund ‘unique’ downtown Fulshear project

Money to begin the Wallis Street project was approved by voters in November as part of Fort Bend County’s $218.2 million mobility bond. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

To improve mobility in downtown Fulshear for both cars and pedestrians, the city, along with Fort Bend County, is working to convert Wallis and Main streets into a one-way pair.

A one-way pair, also called a couplet, is two parallel one-way streets often used in downtown areas that provide for a safer flow of traffic, said Sharon Valiante, public works director for the city of Fulshear.

Money to begin the Wallis project—which includes the reconstruction of the roadway as well as plans to widen the street and extend it to FM 1093—was approved by voters in November as part of Fort Bend County’s $218.2 million mobility bond.

The bond puts $5.6 million toward the project, and Valiante said the city of Fulshear will split costs for this initiative 50-50.

Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers called the Wallis project a unique concept that will improve capacity through downtown.

During a March 11 transportation update hosted by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, Meyers said more than one-third of the funding allocated through the 2020 mobility bond is for road projects in Precinct 3, which includes Fulshear.

“The reality is that about 70%-75% of the growth in Fort Bend County has been occurring in Precinct 3,” he said. “As a consequence, Precinct 3 was always a little behind. But this year, we were able to get a little over a third of the funds going to Precinct 3 to try and address the mobility issues related to the rapid growth that’s occurring.”

Under the proposed plan, the two lanes of Wallis will accommodate southbound traffic through downtown, and Main, also known as FM 359, would have two lanes of northbound traffic.

Valiante said the project’s design is expected to begin in the coming months, and construction could occur within two years. While Fulshear officials anticipate Wallis to eventually have one-way traffic, Valiante said it may first open with two-way traffic.

This eventual conversion of the roads into one-way streets will reduce the traffic on Main by about 50% through downtown and separate the traffic by two blocks, reducing conflicting movement on each corridor, Valiante said.

“The initial goal of the project is to provide … [an] alternative route through downtown Fulshear promoting a more fluid venue for mobility,” Valiante said in an email. “Eventually, the roadway will be part of the one-way pairs … [that] will allow for a more walkable and traditional downtown character to remain.”

While Valiante said more pedestrian accommodations are needed to improve walkability and livability downtown, the separation of traffic on Wallis and Main streets allows for Harris Street to become more pedestrian friendly.

Valiante said this project aligns with the city’s broader Livable Centers Study, which was adopted by City Council in 2019.

“The intent [of the study] is to encourage walkable, mixed-use development, provide opportunities for multi-modal transportation options, create a greater sense of place, improve environmental quality, and promote economic development,” Valiante said in an email.