A truck hauling materials on Kingwood roads.

If you live in subdivisions along Mills Branch or Ford Road, you may have noticed an increase in truck traffic. Several Kingwood residents have contacted The Tribune and commented on the trucks, which run from 4:30 or 5 a.m. to late hours in the evening.
Residents of the Royal Brook subdivision assumed the trucks were bringing material into the subdivision.
“I just figured we will have to deal with it until the neighborhood is built out,” said one woman. However, the trucks are outbound from two material companies on Heuni Road, which borders the Royal Brook subdivision.
Residents have described the extremely loud and constant noise from the 18-wheelers and trucks that pass through each day. Two residents frequently see the large trucks weaving across Heuni road to avoid potholes. The trucks also encroach on multiple lanes when turning onto Mills Branch Road. One woman said she couldn’t leave her driveway for a while because a brick truck was blocking it, waiting for three dump trucks to pass.
When one Kingwood resident noticed a sharp increase in the daily truck traffic in late June, he followed the trucks from Heuni Road to Mills Branch to Ford Road and then out to Highway 59. Another popular route is Heuni Road, west on Mills Branch and south on West Lake Houston Parkway and then outbound to FM 1960 and beyond to deliver the loads.
Ralph Rhodes lives in the Elm Grove subdivision in close proximity to the above-mentioned areas. Rhodes said he and his wife had contacted the City of Houston 311 Help Line to see what could be done about the volume of traffic. Rhodes observed the new 100-foot stretch of West Lake Houston Parkway that connects to Mills Branch Road. One morning, Rhodes observed 75 trucks in a relatively short amount of time, and describes the heavy traffic as a “a continual disturbance and a hazard to the many residents who walk this area with children and pets. There is sand, gravel and debris flying everywhere.”
Other residents have also counted trucks to determine traffic volume. One resident counted 28 trucks in a 15 minute time-frame from 9:45 to 10a.m., which extrapolates to over 100 trucks per hour and more than 1,000 trucks in a 12-hour day.
Residents are concerned about the trucks being overweight and exceeding the 15 ton weight limit of the roads, and about safety of the large trucks on the very narrow two lane stretch of Mills Branch and Ford Road. Some residents say the truck cradles are not covered, but should be, and it results in debris flying everywhere.
Two materials companies, TPG Sand and Gulf Coast Stabilized Materials (GCSM), operate businesses on Heuni Road. While GCSM was not available for comment, The Tribune spoke to TPG’s business manager, Prathima Guniganti, and President of TPG Sand, Prabhakar Guniganti. The Guniganti family has operated TPG Sand for more than 15 years at the site of the large sand pit near Caney Creek. TPG said that their trucking capacity did increase this summer due to seasonal business and the demand for building materials in the Houston area. The company controls the aspects they can control, but TPG cannot control the routes taken by the truckers. The trucks are operated by independent truckers who are paid by the load and therefore likely take the quickest road routes. TPG says it is in compliance; they check each truck for current permits, they record empty truck weights, and check loaded truck weights. If a truck is overweight, TPG ensures the truck is properly loaded prior to leaving its facility. Guniganti stated that a typical load is 80,000 pounds, but that some trucks have permits to carry heavier loads up to 84,000 pounds.
One resident even stopped at a truck stop to talk to the truckers about the situation. The truckers said they get paid between $80 to $150 per sand/gravel load, and it is all about the money. The truckers said that Houston Police and county officials do not monitor the roads often, and the occasional violation is just the price of doing business. The fine is cheaper than the cost of being fully compliant, and they will definitely take the shorter, faster routes to save time.
West Lake Houston Parkway has been expanded to a four lane road to accommodate the new Royal Brook subdivision. Friendswood Development Company purchased the 330-acres of land in August 2013. The Tribune contacted the project manager responsible for the build-out of Royal Brook, but the company did not return phone calls.
The dividing line between Harris and Montgomery counties runs along Ford Road. The Tribune contacted Montgomery County Precinct 4, but Jim Clarke’s office did not provide a response to queries about the truck traffic. K. Woodrome, a representative for Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Cagle, stated that roads in Kingwood are not county roads, but are actually maintained by the City of Houston. Councilman Dave Martin’s representative Jessica Beamer said residents had contacted them as well, and Martin’s office reached out to coordinate the issue with the Kingwood substation of the Houston Police Department, who said they would work on an increased presence of HPD in the area.
Kingwood HPD reached out to Houston’s Truck Enforcement Division, and their officers spent two days monitoring the truck traffic. According to HPD Officers Christine Salazar and David Williams, over 168 violations were found, including permit issues, speeding violations and one weight issue. On one day, 83 violations were written on nine trucks, with four trucks taken completely out of service for multiple violations. On the second day, 85 violations were written on 10 trucks, with four being taken out of service. The officers said that traffic was greatly reduced those days because truckers radioed ahead to other trucks about the HPD enforcement operation.
Some neighbors say they don’t notice the traffic, while others say the sand operators were there long before Royal Brook so it is only fair. However, other neighbors are frequently disturbed by the trucks and are bothered that they were not informed about the sand company operations prior to purchasing their homes. They hope that the police enforcement will continue.

Jacqueline Havelka
Author: Jacqueline HavelkaEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am a rocket scientist turned writer. I worked at Lockheed Martin-Johnson Space Center for many years managing experiments on the Space Station and Shuttle, and I now own my own firm, Inform Scientific, specializing in technical and medical writing and research program management. I am a contributing correspondent to The Tribune, a Kingwood resident for 12 years, and proud mom to two Aggie sons.

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