Stadium construction in Katy over budget

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The most expensive high school stadium in the U.S. keeps getting more expensive. The Katy Independent School District Board of Trustees will most likely approve another $1.5 million to the cost of the district's second stadium at its Monday night board meeting. That would bring the stadium's cost to $62.5 million.

The additional funds will go toward traffic flow improvements needed for side-by-side football stadiums. But many wonder why this cost wasn't accounted for in the original budget. When you see the second stadium under construction, it's hard to miss the construction going on all around it, especially on Katy Fort Bend Road. Many businesses are developing, banking on a booming business when the new stadium opens.

"We did the survey here, the traffic survey, and they are saying in the future, because of the stadium, we have more traffic and more people coming this way," says Nick Momin, manager of the 24/7 convenience store which opened to the public on Saturday.

Momin's company had to do a traffic survey to build the fuel station, convenience store and attached Wendy's restaurant. And Katy ISD did a traffic survey long ago for the second stadium. While the expenses may now just be coming to light, they're not new.

"Their engineer presented this plan, and we agreed with it that it met our standards, so we approved," Harris County Chief Engineer John Blount told FOX 26 by phone. "Why it wasn't in the original plan or budget I couldn't tell you."

Blount sent FOX 26 the Katy ISD Traffic Operations Plan, originally created in July of 2015, with a final revision in February. It's an extensive detailed report which shows the plan to add several left turn lanes, as part of the effort to get game day traffic in and out as quickly as possible. But the stadium budget, at $61 million, is already $3 million over its original bond issue. These infrastructure requirements will bump it to $62.5 million.

"It was not on the 2014 bond issue because 2010 bond funds had already been set aside for this and because we needed to wait on results of traffic study to determine how much it would even cost," says Katy ISD director of communications Denisse Cantu Coffman via e-mail.

But in 2014, Katy ISD was under pressure to keep the stadium's price tag low. Voters had already rejected the stadium once when it carried a $69 million price tag. Now, the second stadium will soon have a $62.5 million price tag, and may may wonder how much higher it might go.