Katy and Fulshear leaders consider infrastructure, mobility and jobs in the next decade (2023)

If the last decade is any indication, growth in the Katy and Fulshear areas will be significant over the next 10 years. With the number of residents expected to reach 1.02 million by 2037, Katy and Fulshear leaders are preparing for the future with infrastructure, mobility and economic development projects, officials said.

The Katy area population in ZIP codes 77084, 77094, 77441, 77449, 77450 and 77493 increased 92% between 2000 and 2010, according to data from the Katy Area Economic Development Council. That number has risen again from 355,261 in 2010 to 571,802 in 2022.

The Texas Population Center, the statewide liaison for the US Census Bureau, projects the population of these ZIP codes to reach 872,948 by 2033. Most of the growth has been concentrated in western Katy and for several years. public roads are present, said Chuck Martinez, president of the Katy Area Economic Development Council.

“Much of the Katy area is experiencing very rapid growth,” Martinez said. "If you look broadly at what was here and what wasn't here in the last 10 years, it shows the pace of that growth and the old adage 'build it and they will come.'"

The Katy Area EDC collects data to foster economic development and attract businesses, jobs and talent to the region. In 2023, Martinez said EDC will refine its strategic plan, a future vision of Katy's employment landscape.

Meanwhile, new communities are being built in the Fulshear area to accommodate interest in the region, and the Texas Department of Transportation plans to invest millions to improve mobility in the area.

Preparing the infrastructure

Most of the area's growth is occurring north of FM 1093 and along Texas Heritage Parkway with several planned communities like Cross Creek Ranch, Tamarron and Cross Creek West along the corridor, Fulshear Assistant City Manager said, Zach Goodlander.

Goodlander said most of them are in Fulshear's extraterritorial jurisdiction, which generally limits the amount of influence city officials have over development.

However, the city and developers began entering into development agreements in 2006 that regulate lot sizes, density, and land use, as well as ensuring that roads and utility infrastructure are built in accordance with the city standard, Goodlander said.

“The development agreement is a useful tool for both parties,” Goodlander said. “There are fewer question marks on the developer side, but for the city side, it's a good way to at least ensure that some additional regulation is applied that we normally wouldn't have.”

Developers in Fort Bend County are responsible for their own infrastructure, from utilities to sewer systems to the streets that connect to major highways, said Mark Vogler, general manager and chief engineer for the county's Drainage District. of Fort Bend.

“They create municipal utility districts, which in turn provide water, storm sewer, detention ponds, sewer systems, and then pay through a utility district tax,” Vogler said.

But the drainage district is carrying out a drainage master plan to figure out the cost of this practice and the balance of rainfall and water infiltration, which should be ready by the end of May, Vogler said.

The big policy question, he said, is whether the county can afford to create regional detention channels or whether the onus should remain with developers to offset their own drainage impacts.

“The county is looking at how much it would cost to upgrade [our] 41 major streams to handle Atlas 14 rainfall, which is 16.5 inches,” Vogler said. "We don't have a set number yet, but so far we're talking about $3 [billion] to $5 billion to do this kind of improvement."

refining routes

Building connectivity through roads is something that will continue to attract new residents to the Katy community, Martinez said.

Along I-10, which runs east-west and intersects with the Grand Parkway, TxDOT has planned at least six projects over the next 10 years to extend the freeway lane. 6 to FM 359 in Brookshire. The projects will add lanes and continue main roads to ease congestion, said Emily Black, TxDOT public information officer.

In the Katy area, this includes four highway expansion projects. 59 to Mason Road, which is expected to be completed in August 2030 and will cost $493.16 million.

Construction is scheduled to take place between June 2023 and December 2025 along Grand Parkway to extend the roadway from four lanes to six lanes in both directions from FM 1093 to the Harris County line and add frontage roads to throughout parts of it.

Black said bids for a portion of the Grand Parkway expansion project were sent to engineers on January 5 and construction is planned to begin in June.

Near Fulshear, FM 1093 will become a major thoroughfare connecting residents to the Energy Corridor, the Texas Medical Center and other areas of Houston, Goodlander said.

TxDOT plans to start building a 0.6-mile four-lane toll lane west from Spring Green Boulevard to FM 1463 along the highway by 2026, according to its project tracking tool. The agency also plans to expand FM 1093 some time after 2033 from a two-lane undivided highway to a four-lane divided highway from FM 1489 to FM 359.

Finally, FM 1463, less than 2 miles from the Texas Heritage Parkway, will serve the communities of Katy and Fulshear as a north-south connector, Goodlander said.

TxDOT has two projects planned for completion by the end of July 2026 along this path for a total of $106.55 million. These will widen the road from two to four to six lanes, add sidewalks, and add a raised median. TxDOT did not provide start dates for work along I-10, FM 1093 and FM 1463.

building the economy

Many of the Katy area's major employers are located along these main thoroughfares, including the Westpark Tollway and the Grand Parkway, a common trend in areas experiencing high growth, Martinez said.

“Things that normally go hand in hand with population growth are restaurant [businesses], finance and healthcare,” Martinez said. "They tend to cluster around the roofs."

Kyle Stanzel, chief operating officer for Houston Methodist West, said he anticipates the hospital will need to add at least 129 more beds for a total bed count of 400 by 2033. This hospital is undergoing several multi-million dollar expansion projects, including the construction of a third Medical Office Building completed in 2023. The Medical Building will have approximately 300 employees.

In 10 years, Stanzel said he hopes to add 1,600 employees to the workforce of about 2,000 to maintain the facility. The main challenge, he said, will be to develop the talent of the future.

“It is critical that we continue to work with our educational partners to educate students about the opportunities in our industry so that we can bring the best talent back to Katy and West Houston,” Stanzel said.

Another driver of Katy-area population growth has been the Katy Independent School District, which Martinez says hopes to hit 100,000 students by 2027-28.

The Katy Area EDC has listed KISD as the 2022 Top Employer in the area. According to the KISD Human Resources Department, the district has a total of 12,565 employees, not including substitute teachers and temporary workers.

In all, based on new schools and population growth, KISD's human resources team said the district could have up to 5,000 new positions created at all job levels by 2032.

Martinez said he believes the growth in the number of employers will coincide with the sectors already targeted by the area's EDC, which include the energy sector, life sciences, manufacturing industries, research and development, and regionally based companies.

In 2023, EDC will continue to develop its strategic plan, which aims to strengthen the economic development of the Katy area. It will focus on marketing and business development, competitiveness and effective organization.

Martinez said EDC's collaboration with the Greater Houston Partnership, the largest chamber of commerce in the Houston area, will help attract quality businesses and jobs.

“We will always be focused on our relationships throughout the region, not only with institutions like ours, but also with members of our organization and [identifying] what their roles are,” he said.

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