By Nicole Jones
Public input regarding a possible delay of sections of Grand Parkway — including the one connecting I-45 to state Hwy. 288 — will continue until Aug. 12.
The Texas Department of Transportation’s proposed 10-year-plan beginning in 2020 lists four toll road projects throughout the state that are “recommended for funding de-authorization and removal” from the 10-year plan. Among them is Segments B and C of state Hwy. 99, or the Grand Parkway. These segments would connect I-69 in Fort Bend County to state Hwy. 288 and to I-45 in League City — a connection that regional leaders believe will boost economic development, improve mobility and ease congestion in much of Galveston and Brazoria counties.
Expected to develop as Houston’s third and outermost loop with a circumference of 180 miles, the Grand Parkway was conceptualized in the early 1960s. The first of 11 segments opened in far west Houston in 1994. With much of the northwest section already open to traffic, those near the path of the southwest portion figured it was only a matter of time.
“This has caught all of us by complete surprise,” the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership announced this week. “Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation declined to comment about the rationale behind the move, only saying the public still has the opportunity to comment before an August 29 vote.”
Aside from economic development, the delay of segments of the project in Brazoria and Galveston counties could also mean mobility issues for an area already plagued with increasing congestion. In addition, area leaders say delaying the segments could put coastal residents at greater risk in the event of a hurricane evacuation.
The Texas Transportation Commission is expected to vote Aug. 29 on the 10-year plan. Meanwhile, regional leaders are asking residents and businesses to comment online at www.txdot.gov, email [email protected] or write: Texas Department of Transportation, Attn: Peter Smith, UTP, PO Box 149217, Austin, TX 78714-9217.
A public hearing is scheduled in Austin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6. That hearing will take place at 118 E. Riverside Dr., Austin, in the ENV Conference Room.