The US Census Bureau has designated the Conroe-Woodlands district as a Large Urban Area, meaning more transportation dollars coming their way, according to Community Impact Newsletter:
The Census Bureau defines Large Urban Areas as “densely populated residential, commercial and other non-residential areas.” The Census Bureau identified 486 such areas, with Conroe-The Woodlands and surrounding unincorporated Montgomery County, with a population of 239,938, being one of 36 new areas earning the designation.
According to the Federal Transit Administration, and based on a funding formula that determines the allocations, the Conroe-Woodlands urban area could receive about $2.1 million in grant money. The money can be used for capital projects, planning, job access and reverse commute projects, and transportation operation costs.
The Houston-Galveston Area Council will serve as facilitators of the funds, said Bruce Tough, chairman of the township board of directors.
“This is not an arbitrary process,” Tough said. “The applications [for funding] will come through the H-GAC, which will apply the formula funding.”
According to the FTA, money is appropriated to designated recipients, which then suballocates the money to state and local governmental authorities, including public transportation providers. The primary public transportation provider in The Woodlands is the Brazos Transit District, which operates three park and rides, the Town Center trolley system and the Waterway Cruisers.
“The Brazos Transit District is a very vital partner to the continuation of the transit program, and our intention is to continue that association,” Tough said.
The BTD could be a recipient of funding through the FTA program.
“[The BTD] has provided [the park and ride] service and made it into an exemplary service,” Tough said. “And we will continue that service.”
The three park and rides in The Woodlands serve about 800,000 riders per year, Tough said, which makes the service one of the most successful in the nation.
“It would be completely illogical to terminate or reduce the funding for those programs,” Tough said.
Because the Census Bureau combined both Conroe and The Woodlands in its urban area designation, the two entities have entered into an inter-local agreement to be dual designated recipients of money.
Tough said representatives from the cities of Oak Ridge North and Shenandoah, as well as Cut and Shoot all have sent representatives to be involved in the discussions since they are within the Large Urban Area designated by the Census.
H-GAC is holding a public comment hearing period for the proposed designated grant recipients through Sept. 17 at 5 p.m.