At its July 24 board meeting, the Huffman ISD Board of Trustees received its final in-depth progress report on the construction of the new Falcon Ridge Elementary School.
With less than a month before the teachers arrive in mid-August and classes begin Aug. 27, the heavy work is nearly complete, but there is still much to be done. Project Manager Tom Trial described every aspect of the accomplishments so far and outlined the work still to be done, including work by Harris County and TxDOT.“Things are going well,” said Trial. “We are fast and furious on all projects and we are cautiously optimistic.”
He provided an update with photographs taken earlier in the day and described what remained in order to complete the project in time for school. Superintendent Dr. Benny Soileau asked Trial about the status of getting power connected to the school, which had been unexpectedly delayed during the required government approval process.
“We did get approval on permanent power Friday at about 6 p.m. Today we contacted CenterPoint Energy and we are on their list to get power on Wednesday or at the latest, Thursday (July 26),” he said. He explained there is full temporary power on site now for the ongoing construction and noted some of the air conditioning equipment was already working and was being used as it was brought online.
One trustee asked about a new sidewalk on the north side of the property that was flooding every time it rained. Trial said it was built correctly to a specification that was itself in error. According to Trial, the county has already agreed to tear it out and rebuild it to the correct specification which takes into account better drainage requirements. The work is to be done in the next two weeks.
All of the trustees were concerned about student safety on the sidewalks along the school-area roadsides and the traffic congestion at the intersection of FM 2100, Wolf Road (to the east) and Huffman-Cleveland Road (to the west.)
“The county is going to widen that road (FM 2100) and they are going to align Wolf Road and Cleveland Road,” said Trial. “They are actually misaligned by about 5 feet right now, so they have to align the two roads and they had to take some property through Eminent Domain,” Trial said. “Having to acquire the land through the Eminent Domain process caused delays to the overall plan but that has now been done.”
He added that left-turn lanes will be added on Huffman-Cleveland and Wolf roads.
“The traffic signals will be reworked and the road widened, so it will be a very usable intersection,” said Trial.
He explained the cost of the intersection work was $580,000. The county donated it in the interest of the school district’s needs as did the Texas Department of Transportation regarding its work on FM 2100, worth $240,000.
“So there is a lot of work that has been donated by the authorities to help us,” Trial said.
Soileau said most of the work at that intersection is already scheduled for September and will take up to a month and half.
“Logistically, it is not good for us,” said Soileau. “They (TxDOT and Harris County) have been so accommodating to us that we are trying to work with them in the best way possible, but it is going to be a challenge for us. They have offered to put police officers in the intersection to help with traffic to make sure it flows as best as it possibly can under the circumstances.”
Trial noted the construction crews will be working night and day and on weekends to get it done as rapidly as possible.
Trustee Jerry Jones asked Trial how he felt about the whole project.
“I don’t feel good until it’s finished, but I am cautiously optimistic,” said Trial. “I work to make sure what I am cautiously optimistic about happens.”
The next regularly scheduled board of trustees meeting will be Monday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the Huffman ISD Administration Building, 24302 FM 2100.