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Bridge Battle Draws More Attention, Reviews In League City

Residents in the rural neighborhood worry that plans to add a bridge across Clear Creek could cause unwanted changes to their neighborhood

Clear Creek Shores residents are objecting to a proposed bridge as they did in 2005 and again in 2009 when the city also broached the concept.
Clear Creek Shores residents are objecting to a proposed bridge as they did in 2005 and again in 2009 when the city also broached the concept.

Residents in a quiet, almost rural, neighborhood in the Harris County section of League City see themselves as apart from, forgotten and ignored by officialdom in the otherwise booming community.

The Galveston County Daily News reports when it comes to putting a bridge over Clear Creek at Palomino Lane, they want to keep it that way.

Clear Creek Shores residents are objecting to a proposed bridge as they did in 2005 and again in 2009 when the city also broached the concept.

League City wants to develop plans to alleviate traffic congestion on FM 518 west of Interstate 45, including extending Palomino Lane with a bridge. It’s just one of about 80 projects in different stages of planning that city officials are juggling to improve traffic conditions in the city.

But Clear Creek Shores residents want to stop any plans to extend Palomino Lane, they said.

“It would destroy one of the oldest neighborhoods in League City,” resident Victoria Maxey-Hodgson said.

Clear Creek Shores, developed in the 1960s, is a quiet neighborhood just west of Harris County’s Challenger Park. A bridge would change all of that, residents said.

A bridge would ruin views, resident Skip Hartley said. It will hurt wildlife, resident Pamela Hale said. It will be noisy and add traffic, resident Edwin Benson said. And it will make property values go down, Maxey-Hodgson said.

The neighborhood has a history with this bridge issue. More than 10 years ago, many of its residents fought the building of Clear Springs High School on Palomino because of the traffic it would generate, adding to the existing traffic problems on FM 518.

And they suspected that building a high school at the end of a dead-end road at a creek would one day lead to a bridge, residents said.

“We were assured at that time there would be no bridge,” Maxey-Hodgson said.

In 2005, Clear Creek Independent School District unveiled plans to build a high school on dead-end Palomino Road. Owners of waterfront houses in Clear Creek Shores and Creekside Estates argued the school would bring unwanted traffic and noise.

The city denied the school district’s request to build the school but the district sued and in July 2005 state District Court Judge Susan Criss ordered the city to give the school district a zoning permit to build the new high school. Clear Springs High School opened in 2007.

The city, in turn, pulled the plug on plans to extend Palomino Lane north to Grissom Road.

But the Palomino Lane extension project stayed on the books.

In December 2009, the city council agreed to spend $525,000 for a consultant to study the possibility of building a bridge from Palomino Lane across Clear Creek and extending a four-lane road north either along West NASA Boulevard or through a chunk of ranch land sandwiched between neighborhoods. The road extension would help alleviate traffic congestion along FM 518 caused by the high school, city staff said at the time.

The study ignited a firestorm among homeowners and ranch owners who thought the project was long dead.

As the years rolled by, the traffic intensified and the population grew to more than 104,000 residents. As League City officials now weigh solutions to ease the problems, two possible solutions that remain are extending Landing Boulevard and Palomino Lane across Clear Creek.

Both plans have been around a long time, City Manager John Baumgartner said.

“We need both of those projects to move forward,” Baumgartner said.

The League City council at its Jan. 9 meeting approved an $84,600 contract with Houston-based Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. to prepare plans and paperwork so the city can compete in the spring for state and federal money to pay for the bridge project.

The city has a chance to fund 80 percent of the Palomino Lane project with state and federal money, rather than the city paying 100 percent of the cost, Baumgartner said.

Clear Creek Shores residents would prefer the city wait until the Landing Boulevard extension is completed first to see whether that does enough to make traffic flow better before moving ahead with a Palomino bridge.

The city is just looking at options, Mayor Pat Hallisey said. It’s a process that takes a long time, he said.

“I don’t know if Palomino is a done deal,” Hallisey said.

Some officials have told Clear Creek Shores residents that it might be 15 years until the city can undertake the projects, but others have told them it might be as little as two years, Maxey-Hodgson said.

“A lot of us will still be here in 15 years,” she said.

A Palomino bridge to Clear Creek Shores would endanger the environment and damage the Great Texas Birding Trail there near Challenger Park, Maxey-Hodgson said.

In January, a bald eagle hatched two eaglets in the area, she said.

“We are a close-knit neighborhood and are resilient,” Maxey-Hodgson said. “I believe other neighborhoods will be joining ours, as they did last time, to oppose the impact of this proposed bridge.”