Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grand Parkway: 'Not part of the TTC?'

Grand Parkway plans moving forward


by Amy Fowler, Managing Editor
The Liberty Vindicator (Liberty, TX)
Copyright 2008

Changes are on the horizon for Liberty County with two major highways planned in the area.

Both the Grand Parkway (SH 99) and the Trans-Texas Corridor (I-69) are planned to run sections through Liberty County and both roads could bring big economic development, according to County Judge Phil Fitzgerald.

"That's going to have a huge impact on our county," said Fitzgerald. He said one subdivision planned along the Grand Parkway route will have homes for approximately 35,000 residents - half the current population of Liberty County.

Often, Fitzgerald said, people get confused between the two projects.

The Trans-Texas Corridor is a massive undertaking by the state of Texas. It is currently in the planning stages and will take years before even the initial construction phases start.

The Commissioners Court for Liberty County voted for a resolution opposing the current designation for the I-69 corridor during its last meeting.

That plan would have the corridor follow I-59 through the Northern portion of the county. The commissioners said the planned route could not handle the development.

Grand Parkway, on the other hand, is a local project designed to be another loop around Harris County. Currently both I-610 and the Sam Houston Expressway follow similar paths around the county.

Grand Parkway would be a larger undertaking than the two current loops, however, and the Texas Department of Transportation wants it built as one large project, to be completed by 2015.

"It's good for us because we don't have the means to do it on our own," said Fitzgerald. "Some of the bigger counties just want to build their segment and be done with it."

Right now, Grand Parkway is in development, with some segments already allowing traffic. The section that would run through Liberty County still has a way to go, however.

The Harris County Toll Authority is in the process of negotiating terms and conditions with TxDOT. Those guidelines would lay out the ways the road would be built and funded.

Once the details are worked out, the terms and conditions will go back to the individual counties for approval.

At the same time, TxDOT is accepting input on proposed routes for Grand Parkway.

The Grand Parkway Association recommended a route that runs parallel to Highway 146 and gradually turns toward I-59. Local authorities prefer a route that runs closer to Highway 321, making a sharper turn toward I-59 and thus going through more of Liberty County.

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