Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"We will follow the lead of Harris County to see what they come up with in terms of a private partnership.”

County studies local option for Grand Parkway segment


Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2009

The Grand Parkway, also known as Texas 99, is a proposed third loop around the Houston region. The $5.1 billion project is broken up into 11 segments, and several counties are considering local options to control the project at the local level. Following are the segments of the road and their locations.

Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved a local option to study whether to design and build a segment of the Grand Parkway within its boundaries at the local level.

Montgomery County is one of several counties in the region that is expected to vote on a local options for construction of the 170-mile, third loop around the Houston region. The county option also was adopted in Fort Bend County and is expected to be considered by the Commissioners Courts in Harris and Brazoria counties this week.

“We're buying time today for two years to study the feasibility of the project,” said Montgomery County Judge Alan B. Sadler. “We're not committing substantial money to the project; we have projects with much higher priorities. We will follow the lead of Harris County to see what they come up with in terms of a private partnership.”

At stake in this process is the control over the funding and operations of the proposed roadway. The project could be built and controlled by each county or by the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Whether the counties or the state does it, it won't change the roadway,” said David Gornet, executive director of the Grand Parkway Association. “It is over who will operate and control it.

The Grand Parkway, also known as Texas 99, would traverse Harris, Montgomery, Liberty , Chambers, Galveston and Brazoria counties about 25 to 30 miles outside downtown Houston. The project, which originated in 1984, was to be built in 11 segments and would cost $5.1 billion. The segment in Montgomery County runs from Interstate 45 to US. 59.

Montgomery County has dedicated no funding for the project or for a study, pending the outcome of a study by the city of Houston to identify future funding options for the project. Harris County has applied for federal stimulus funds for a segment in its county and also is examining private funding for the roadway.

County sets contract for FM 1488 segment

In another transportation project, Montgomery County Commissioners Court awarded a $23.6 million contract to W.W. Webber LLC to build the last segment of the FM 1488 widening project between FM 2978 and Mostyn Road, near Magnolia High School. The 5.6 miles project will be an extension of the current widening of the road between I-45 and FM 2978.

The project is expected to take about two years to complete and may start as early as next month. During construction, motorists will drive on existing roadway and be switched to new pavements when sections are complete, said Jeff Johnson, transportation manager for the Montgomery County Department of Engineering.

The expansion of FM 1488 is one of five projects being funded through a unique financing arrangement with the Texas Department of Transportation. Under the pass through toll program, Montgomery County will pay the cost of building new roads upfront and will be reimbursed by the state based on the number of motorists that use the new roadways. The $100 initiative was part of $160 million road bond approved by voters in 2005.

Grand Parkway
  • Segment A: Texas 146 to Interstate 45 South
  • Segment B: Interstate 45 to Texas 288
  • Segment C: U.S. 59 South To Texas 288
  • Segment D: U.S. 59 South to Interstate 10 West
  • Segment E: Interstate 10 West to US 290
  • Segment F-1: U.S. 290 to Texas 249
  • Segment F-2: Texas 249 to Interstate 45 North
  • Segment G: Interstate 45 North to US 59 North
  • Segment H and I-1: U.S. 59 North to Interstate 10 East
  • Segment I-2: Interstate 10 East to Texas 146
Source: Grand Parkway Association

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