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Monday, August 24, 2015

Highway 90A Completed in Sugar Land, 1927

I mentioned in the last batch of posts that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Old Spanish Trail, known as Highway 90A here in Sugar Land.  Further research has turned up more information, but not as much as I'd hoped.  

I need to locate issues of the Texas Commercial News published in Sugar Land to get the local view of the highway program, but here is what I've learned from other resources.

A Houston Post article published in July 1919  said the exact route of the OST hadn't been determined, but it would likely follow the Southern Pacific rail line.  I read in another source that the railroad was critical to the project due to its right-of-way and its role in delivering men and materiel to construction sites.

In October 1919 the Old Spanish Trail Association received a charter from the State of Texas and had started local organizations in most of the counties in the states through which the highway would pass.  Since the State of Texas encompassed (by a wide margin) the largest segment of the 2,800-mile highway, and since San Antonio was the approximate mid-point, San Antonio was selected as the OST Association's headquarters.  Their offices were located in the Gunter Hotel.

Despite all this activity there was little real improvement completed in 1919 on the local roads that became the OST.

1921 newspaper article highlights road problems.
Naturally, the Texas Highway Department (THD) played a major role in this program.  THD was the precursor to today's TXDOT.  It was created in 1917 to take advantage of the 1916 Federal Road Aid Act, which granted funds to states that centralized control, construction, and maintenance of their roads.

 Road paving in Sugar Land, 1927.
Road paving near Sugar Creek Boulevard, 1927.

In 1925 THD relieved counties of road maintenance.  Counties were still obligated to obtain rights-of-way for new roads, however.

 Cars waiting just east of Eldridge Road to pass through Sugar Land after opening ceremony, 1927.
  Cars & passengers waiting just east of Eldridge Road to pass through Sugar Land after opening ceremony, 1927.
In 1925 State Attorney General Dan Moody charged Governor Ma Ferguson's administration with corruption and malfeasance in its handling of road contracts.  Moody won his case and became the next governor, although Ma Ferguson returned to office in the 1930s.
Paving in the center of Sugar Land, 1927.

As you can see from these photos, many of which I've posted before, 1927 was a big year for Sugar Land's main highway.  Highway 90A was paved as a two-lane road through town and across Fort Bend County.  In 1947 two additional lanes (handling east bound traffic) were completed.  So it goes. 

 W. T. Eldridge, Sr. in passenger seat of lead car (a Rolls-Royce), 1927.
I. H. Kempner, Sr., W. T. Eldridge, Sr. and other dignitaries at ribbon cutting, 1927.