The Harris County Commissioners Court has asked county officials to prepare recommendations for a bond referendum on the November ballot by late July or early August. The bond could include road and bridge projects in addition to parks, libraries and other capital improvements.

“I think anybody that drives around Houston knows the need

[and] sees the congestion,” county engineer John Blount said. “And our road and bridge money, we typically don’t [use it to] build new roads. We typically widen existing roads, put traffic signals in and things of that nature. That’s what these funds are used for.”

The amount of a potential bond is unknown, but Blount said it would likely be more than the county’s last bond in 2007, which provided $365 million for countywide projects, including $190 million for roads and bridges. Blount said funds from the 2007 bond have been exhausted.

He said specific projects are not usually identified for Harris County bond referendums, in part due to the county’s ability to quickly get construction underway on roadways.

“If a county commissioner calls me today and says, ‘I want X road widened,’ typically in 18 months I can have construction underway,” Blount said. “[For] most people it’s five to 10 years. Because of that, we’re able to change or determine what projects we need as the demand happens.”

Although there are some significant projects in the region that could require funding, such as the widening of Kuykendahl and Gosling roads, it is unknown which projects in Precinct 4 could potentially be funded by a bond, said Mark Seegers, communications director for Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle.

County officials said a bond would not result in a property tax increase. Seegers and Blount said the county’s budget office has been tasked with providing a dollar recommendation that would not increase the tax rate.

“The mood is that to pass a bond package, people are going to have to know that the [county] can manage it within whatever [its] current bond rate is,” Seegers said.

Blount said the bond is necessary to fund road and bridge projects in Harris County that will accommodate the countywide growth. The unincorporated population in Harris County grew by 74 percent from 2000 while the county’s road miles increased 40 percent over that time.

In addition to roads, Blount and Seegers said the bond package will include funding for parks and for renovations to libraries.

It may also include funding for a new veterinary health and pet adoption center and for expansions to some annex buildings for justices of the peace, Blount said.

http://communityimpact.com/2015/07/09/harris-county-considering-road-bond-referendum-for-november/