FM 1960 construction to cause or prevent congestion?

January 19, 2010 4:57:41 PM PST
A busy stretch of road will soon be a construction mess. The new plans for improvements to FM 1960 are meant to make the road safer, but some say it's not a good idea. Curbed medians will be installed along eight miles of FM 1960, from SH-249 to I-45. Improvements will also be made to several intersections along the way.

FM 1960 is known for traffic, congestion and unfortunately its share of accidents. The new Texas Department of Transportation plan would build a raised median down the stretch of FM 1960. Supporters say it will make the roads safer, but others are unconvinced.

Nobody would argue that FM 1960 is a fast, busy, moving road. And Fred Grundmeyer thinks it should stay that way.

When we asked him if he thinks there is a traffic problem or too many accidents, Grundmeyer replied, "I don't think so. I don't think so."

Grundmeyer owns a shopping center along the busy street. He said building a raised median is like building a barrier against business.

"I don't know if the customers are going to be able to come as they're used to," said Grundmeyer.

A study to reduce speeders and traffic accidents was conducted years ago and TXDOT's plan to build the median is supported by the local chamber of commerce.

"We have a center lane now that is a turn lane, and it is lovingly called a suicide lane. There have been many accidents as a result of that, and I don't think TXDOT is even doing that kind of road anymore," said Northwest Houston Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Thomason.

She said there is no evidence that a median will slow down business development along 1960 and points out that most area residents support the idea.

"Hopefully the median will prevent a lot of accidents," said one resident.

Another resident concurred, saying, "Traffic is bad. It's real, real bad. And that's all day long."

Since the project just began on Monday, those who oppose the median like Grundmeyer have few other options, other than hoping their worst fears about business won't come true.

There are few signs of construction right now, but the entire project is supposed to take around six months with work scheduled for off hours during nights and weekends.

For a closer look at the FM 1960 changes and ways to get around the construction, click to our Traffic section here.