02/23/18 11:30am

JUDGE EMMETT: KATY PRAIRIE DEVELOPMENT SHOULD STOP ONCE AND FOR ALL Here’s Harris County Judge Ed Emmett’s declaration Wednesday at a Rice University flooding conference: “We need to completely protect the Katy Prairie. Just set it aside and not touch it.” Or . . . what’s left of it. Last October, he called for a third reservoir in west Houston to “be part of a larger project to create a state or national park for the Katy Prairie.” And he wants Gov. Abbott to tap the state’s “rainy day fund” in order to build the prairie pond. (As for where it would go, a 2015 Harris County Flood Control District study proposed several sites, all on not-yet-developed parcels west of the Grand Pkwy. between Hwy. 290 and FM 529.) [Travis Bubenik] Photo of Matt Cook Wildlife Viewing Area on Warren Lake, south of Hockley: Katy Prairie Conservancy

05/03/16 1:00pm

Proposed Changes to Major Thoroughfare Plan near 290 beyond Grand Pkwy.

If you missed yesterday’s meeting in Hockley, you have until Wednesday to send Harris County your thoughts on the map above, from the official county study of road network expansion proposed between I-10 and 290 west of the Grand Pkwy. The thick red dashes mark a proposed loop road circling around almost the entirety of the Katy Prairie Conservancy‘s land preserve (shown as the darkest green blocks, amid slightly-grayer-green agricultural/undeveloped land and a few kelly-green public parks). Purple dashes show the proposed routes of new or expanded thoroughfares, some of which cut through the preserve and cross through the Cypress Creek floodway (shown as a blue underlay making a rough U through the conservancy’s land).

Further west (marked in blue dashes) is the not-yet-planned-but-still-showing-up-in-planning-maps route of Houston’s proposed outer-outer-outer loop, SH 36A (formerly nicknamed the Prairie Parkway). The map above also includes overlays of Harris County’s future development predictions, with dark taupe showing existing development and slightly lighter taupe showing expected expansion.

For comparison, here’s the Katy Prairie Conservancy’s map of west Houston; currently developed areas are marked in gray, the organization’s protected areas are marked in green, and the dashed green band shows how far the prairie ecosystem used to extend:


Up the Watershed
12/18/13 10:00am

How long will it take a Katy worker to zoom past acres of newly paved prairie, over a now-uprooted prehistoric burial ground, and under EZ Tag toll sensors on a lunchtime jaunt to the outlet mall in Cypress? Maybe as quickly as 5 minutes, if the 200mph speed reached last week by driver John Hennessey in one of his company’s souped-up Corvettes on the 15-mile stretch of the Grand Parkway between I-10 and Hwy. 290 can be maintained. Of course, that might become a little more difficult once the new Prairie Tollway opens to slower-moving traffic for the first time this coming Saturday.


200mph from Mall to Mall
08/20/13 10:00am

On a patch of prairie in Katy with large lots that keep their distance from the ever-closer, ever-denser development nearby, a re-relisted 1984 property is making another run at the market. The “close-in country retreat,” as the listing pegs it, comes with a main house, pool house, and guest quarters, plus a pool, pond, barn — and a gazebo (top) out back for taking it all in. No garage, though. The asking price for the 1-acre compound, $565,000, is down from a previous listing’s $599,000 back in March and $580,000 in May. The home et al., located just west of the Grand Parkway amid all the Falcon-named subdivisions, first hit the market in January 2011, asking $625,000.


07/26/12 3:46pm

OLD DEAD PEOPLE BLOCKING PROGRESS OF GRAND PARKWAY Texas’s department of transportation is requesting permission to remove 4 bone fragments found buried in the Katy Prairie — in the path of what will eventually be the largest-circumference ring road ever constructed around a U.S. city. The bones, believed to represent the remains of several people, are at least 2,000 years old, which would make them older than any human body parts previously discovered in the Harris County area. They were unearthed by construction workers. As a result, construction of a portion of Segment E of the Grand Parkway, which will connect I-10 to U.S. Hwy. 290 through acres of uninhabited grasslands, has been halted. TxDOT’s application asks for “expedited removal” of the remains so that work can continue. [abc13; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Deeya Maple

01/19/11 1:29pm

Segment E of Houston’s new Grand Parkway — more commonly known as the new ring-road highway planned to cut through the Katy Prairie to link the Katy Mills Mall to the Houston Premium Outlets mall in Cypress (and to facilitate cultural exchange programs between those two institutions) — has its first casualty, and it’s not an Attwater prairie chicken. One of Katy’s quirkiest and most beloved attractions, Forbidden Gardens, has announced it will close. The Chinese history and cultural museum’s peculiar but convenient location on a former rice field along Franz Rd. just off the Grand Parkway’s stub end likely wasn’t “just off” enough. Forbidden Gardens’ last day open will be January 30; a note on its website says the closing will “make way for the Grand Parkway expansion.” Forbidden Gardens opened in 1996.


10/09/09 3:05pm

LITTLE GRAND PARKWAY ON THE PRAIRIE NOT SO SHOVEL-READY AFTER ALL Those pesky federal regulators, ruining all the fun: It’s now looking like the 15-mile-long Upper Katy Prairie paving project known as the Grand Parkway Segment E won’t be getting the bucket of cash Harris County Commissioners Court wanted. County officials will instead request that the $181 million in federal stimulus funds earlier allocated to the way-out-northwest loop road be distributed to other projects: “The recommendation to withdraw the project from the Texas Department of Transportation’s list of stimulus projects was made by Art Storey, who heads Harris County’s Public Infrastructure Department. Storey declined to comment on his recommendation until it is considered at Harris County Commissioner Court’s meeting next Tuesday. ‘Staff and consultants have worked diligently and successfully to be on schedule to meet the deadlines to enable Segment E construction to qualify for and receive the stimulus funding, but the federal permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot be completely processed by the required mid-February date,’ Storey said in a letter to the court. ‘In fact, because of conflicts over environmental impacts and mitigation, that permit might never be issued.’” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot]