By Mary Alys Cherry
When Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman was running for the post back in 2010, he said he was accused of being an infrastructure commissioner.
Today, “I’m doing my best to prove them right. Infrastructure is the first job of a commissioner. If you don’t do it well, if you aren’t efficient, then everything else falls apart. Infrastructure is the vital component to the economic growth of East Harris County.
“From a regional standpoint, we’re looking at a billion dollars in new construction to improve transportation in East Harris County.”
He’s working with the state to jump-start the Highway 146 project through Seabrook and Kemah and expansion of the Highway 146 bridge.
And, soon his office will be entering the design phase for four really big projects:
- Ship Channel Bridge, new or expanded;
- Widening of Beltway 8 east of I-45;
- Direct connectors from Highway 225 to Beltway 8;
- Direct connectors from the Hardy Toll Road north to Beltway 8.
“These projects all take time, but everything important takes time. My goal is to get them done faster and more efficiently than anyone ever thought possible,” he told the audience at the Clear Lake Association of Senior Programs’ Distinguished Speaker Series at UH-Clear Lake Jan. 10.
Bay Area projects
Several Bay Area roads are due for resurfacing, he said. Among the projects are:
- Various roads in the Seabrook area;
- Reconstruction of the concrete curb and gutter at Harbour Drive and Basilan Lane in Nassau Bay;
- Resurfacing of asphalt streets and drainage improvements in El Cary Estates off NASA Parkway;
- Resurfacing of Red Bluff from Kirby Drive to Fairmont.
The Port of Houston also came in for kudos from the commissioner for its selection of Col. Len Waterworth as executive director, Janiece Longoria as commission chairman and the appointment of Col. John Kennedy, the former Nassau Bay city manager, to the commission.
Morman also feels the Port is moving in the right direction. “The commissioners deserve our support and assistance as they continue to build on the hundreds of thousands of jobs their efforts provide to the region.”
Not fun at first
While he is enjoying his job now, it hasn’t always been easy, he said, explaining that he had to initially lay off 99 employees and cut his budget $12 million to avoid deficit spending.
Today he oversees 373 employees, operates 49 parks, 11 libraries and 9 community centers, over 1,000 miles of roads, a tunnel and a ferry. “And, I’m happy to report that the Precinct 2 team stepped up to the plate and did a great job with less for the last year and a half.”
As for taxes, no problem. Commissioner’s Court just recently adopted the same tax rate as last year’s, he said.
“My priority is to recognize that this community cannot handle an increase in property taxes, and I will not support any sort of tax increase absent a major natural disaster. Homeowners can’t afford one . . . . small businesses can’t afford one . . . . and Mrs. Morman wouldn’t approve.”