The proposed project consists of widening FM 518 from SH 288 to SH 35 for a length of approximately six miles, from the existing four-lane facility to a six-lane urban section with a raised median. The project would potentially require additional Right-of-Way (ROW) and/or relocations.
October 2016 Update:
Federal and State funded transportation projects must comply with federal NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) requirements. The complexity of the NEPA process for a project depend on whether or not additional right of way is required to construct the project. The FM518 widening project will require additional right of way. For that reason TxDoT is conducting what is known as an Environmental Assessment, referred to as an EA. When complete, the EA must be approved by TxDoT’s environmental division in Austin and may have to go to the Federal Highway Administration in Washington for final approval.
Portions of the EA have been drafted and submitted to Austin for review but, the EA as a whole cannot be approved until all components are complete and approved. TxDoT is projecting an approval, referred to as “environmental clearance”, in early/mid-2018.
NO RIGHT OF WAY ACQUISITION MAY OCCUR PRIOR TO ENVIRONMENTAL CLEARANCE. TxDoT believes that right of way acquisition will not begin until 2019 or early 2020 and there would be no construction before 2021.
The EA process requires that the project undergo a Public Hearing. This is similar to the Project Open House held in May, 2015 except this meeting will include a verbal presentation and a question and answer session in addition to updated exhibits. This hearing will include an exhibit showing the proposed final alignment. Right now this is tentatively planned for late Fall or Winter of 2017. The City will ensure that advanced notice of this meeting is posted for all interested parties to attend.
TxDoT is working on the proposed alignment and noted that the current development indicates smaller right of way acquisitions will likely come from both north and south sides, as shown in the GREEN alternative as opposed to larger parcels from one side or the other RED and Blue alternatives. More definitive information is not available at this time.
However, as information about this critical project continues to develop and is shared with the City, we will make that available to the public as quickly as possible.
December 2015 Update:
Recent communication with TxDOT on the progress of the FM518 widening, from SH288 to Walnut, indicate that TxDOT Environmental specialists are continuing the Environmental Study portion of the project. Normally this is about a 12 to 15 month process to collect data, analyze, prepare a written report and submit for review and approval by the Federal Highway Administration. Recent changes to the review and approval process have routed portions of approval responsibility to the Austin offices of TxDOT which has helped to shorten the approval time.
However, given the magnitude of the FM518 project and its potential requirements for additional right of way, this process is likely to require about two years. TxDOT staff identified potential historic structures along the route which have required additional investigation, the outcome of which will play a role in determining the eventual final alignment for the roadway.
No decisions or changes have been made so far to the three potential alignments that TxDOT presented in the public Meeting in May this year. The next update is expected in late Spring 2016 once these additional constraints have been fully identified.
If you have any questions, please contact Skipper Jones, Assistant Director, Capital Projects, Pearland, at 281.652.1748 or Pat Henry, P.E., Director of Project Development, TxDOT, at 713.802.5241 or by email.