Traffic issues delay project
More than a year after breaking ground for a satellite center to serve its growing CyFair campus, Lone Star College still lacks the Harris County permit needed to build on an 11-acre site at 19710 Clay Road near Fry Road.
Ray Laughter, vice chancellor for external affairs for the Lone Star College System, said the delay stems from traffic issues being worked out with the county.
"We believe it will be resolved. I think it's a good amenity for the community," Laughter said.
Precinct 3 County Commissioner Steve Radack is less optimistic.
"The permit has not been issued, and by all indications they're not going to be able to come up with a plan that will meet the requirements," Radack said. "I don't know where it stands right now, but to my knowledge they haven't been permitted."
A traffic impact analysis done at the location identified more than $1 million worth of improvements would be needed on Clay Road before the permit could be issued.
Paul Hawkins, a member of Radack's engineering staff, said the satellite campus had no access from Fry Road. Entry and exit from Clay Road was limited and would require a median opening with a traffic signal and added turn lanes, he said.
Because that would interfere with pick-ups and drop-offs at Rhoads Elementary School across the street, Katy Independent School District officials had suggested the college also pay for a remedy there, he said.
Minutes of the Lone Star College System board meetings indicate trustees have been discussing these issues and resulting construction delays since August 2010. The November minutes refer to roadway improvements identified in the traffic analysis as "unbudgeted" and suggest alternatives are being evaluated.
Laughter said progress is being made, but did not elaborate. He believes construction of the center could begin late this year and the new building could open by fall of 2012.
That would mean the project is a year behind schedule. When Lone Star College officials broke ground at the Clay Road site in late June 2010, they said the 82,000-square-foot facility would open this fall.
The Cypress Center was planned to extend the reach of LSC's CyFair campus to the southern edge of its service area. The site is on the border between the Cypress Fairbanks and Katy school districts.
"That's where a big part of our growth is, and we need to provide a little relief for our students who are driving to the CyFair campus from there," Laughter said.
LSC-CyFair, located at West and Barker-Cypress roads, is the system's newest campus and already its largest. More than 18,000 students attended this spring, an 11 percent increase from the year before.
The Fairbanks Center at U.S. 290 and West Little York Road also is an extension of LSC-CyFair.
Cypress Center will serve about 3,000 students, featuring a workforce lab, 14 classrooms, eight computer labs, two training rooms, a biology lab, craft lab and student services area.
About $19.7 million was included for the center in Lone Star College's $408 million bond plan approved in May 2008 by voters in its service area, which includes 11 school districts.
The bond program included other improvements at the CyFair campus, a health science building and a student services building, which will open this fall.
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