Grand Parkway Segments H and I-1 (Montgomery, Harris, Liberty, and Chambers Counties)

Proposed State Highway 99, the 180 mile long loop around the greater Houston area also known as the Grand Parkway, continues towards completion as segment G opened for traffic in March of 2016. Directly east, segments H and I-1 are still in the initial offer phase as TxDOT receives bids to complete this section of the project. Segments H & I-1 will primarily impact property owners Chambers County, Liberty County, and Montgomery County. Please see the image below for an updated map of the Grand Parkway.

sh99 segments open as of 2016-03-31 square 750
(image from www.grandpky.com)

TxDOT anticipates awarding a contract in Fall 2016. Then, contractors can begin the next steps in the project’s progression, including acquiring right-of-way for the Grand Parkway extension. Please contact Luke Ellis, at Johns Marrs Ellis & Hodge at lellis@jmehlaw.com or (512) 215-4078 if you have any questions or would like to receive periodic updates on this project.

High Speed Rail Update – Dallas to Houston

The Dallas to Houston High Speed Rail project being developed by Texas Central Partners is currently being reviewed by federal regulators. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is currently working to prepare the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This publication once completed will use evaluative guidelines to determine possible routing alternatives. This evaluation is based on such criteria like environmental constraints, social impact, and safety.

This controversial project has had strong opposition throughout its history. Currently, Texas Central Partners states that it is in the early stages of land acquisition, including preliminary surveying and discussions with affected landowner, and filing lawsuits against property owners for survey rights. Below, please find the most updated routing maps produced by Texas Central Partners.

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If you have any questions on this project or would like to receive periodic updates, please contact Luke Ellis at lellis@jmehlaw.com or (512) 215-4078.

LCRA’s Zorn to Marion 345 kV Transmission Line Project

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) recently filed its Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) application for a new 345kV transmission line between the Zorn and Marion substations in Guadalupe County. The area under study for the proposed route is located between New Braunfels and Seguin. Approximately 10-14 miles of new Right of Way (ROW) is anticipated for the new line, which will serve northern Bexar County and the Interstate 35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin.

area map

The CCN application, filed in March of 2016, compares 15 routes selected for further analysis. Route 10 was identified as the preferred route by the LCRA. The possible routes generally travel in a northeast to southwest direction near the border of Comal County, south of New Braunfels. Several criteria are considered by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) when selecting a project’s final design and route. This analysis is described for each route within the CCN application, which includes information on environmental impacts, proximity to habitable structures, and overall costs.

A hearing is scheduled at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for June 20-22, 2016 to review this project. It is possible for a final route to be selected at this time. Currently, intervenors and other affected parties are submitting public comments for the PUC to review. You can find these submissions and other information about the project at the PUC interchange by searching for docket number 45601 at http://interchange.puc.texas.gov/WebApp/Interchange/application/dbapps/filings/pgSearch.asp.

Please contact Luke Ellis, at Johns Marrs Ellis & Hodge at lellis@jmehlaw.com or (512) 215-4078 if you have any questions or would like to receive periodic updates on this project.

SAWS Plans to Build 142-Mile Vista Ridge Water Pipeline

The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) plan to increase water supply for the San Antonio area by building the 142-mile Vista Ridge pipeline, which would transport water from Burleson County to Bexar County.  The project will impact property owners in Burleson County, Lee County, Bastrop County, Caldwell County, Guadalupe County, and Bexar County.

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This controversial pipeline project was originally contracted through Abengoa S.A., a Spanish multinational corporation which has since filed for bankruptcy. Now, Garney Construction, a Kansas City construction company, is expected to purchase Abengoa’s contract for the project. Financing strategies are still being worked out, but there are reports that Garney will borrow $800 million from creditors in order take on the project. SAWS board members are expected to lock-in interest rates during a May 3rd board meeting hoping to assist Garney in securing the necessary loans to take on the project.

The Vista Ridge project has been controversial from its inception, with criticism over necessity and rate increases from several sources. In addition to the Abengoa contract, the project is hampered by litigation concerning payment distribution related to water leases between Blue Water Systems and Metropolitan Water Company, two water suppliers in Milam and Burleson counties. A petition has also been filed with the PUC challenging the rate increases announced by SAWS in order to fund the project. While these obstacles do not seem to be threatening the project, progress has been slow over the last several months. Expect activity to increase throughout the summer as litigation settles and the PUC process is completed. As of now, there is still every indication that the Vista Ridge Pipeline remains a top priority for SAWS. Please contact Luke Ellis, at Johns Marrs Ellis & Hodge at lellis@jmehlaw.com or (512) 215-4078 if you have any questions or would like to receive periodic updates on this project.