Grand Parkway construction rolls along
- Written by Rick Janacek
With another section of the Grand Parkway due to open by the end of 2013, plans are under way to continue development of the mega-loop around the Greater Houston area. The executive director of the Grand Parkway Association updated the Lake Houston Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation Committee about the progress of the Grand Parkway and how long it will take before construction starts in the area. Of the 185 miles proposed for the Grand Parkway, only the section from U.S. 59 in the Sugar Land area to I-10 in the Katy area is complete and open to traffic, but Grand Parkway Association Executive Director David Goronet said several other sections of the highway are in development. “Of the 185 miles, we have to go through a study process,” Goronet said. “We have environmental studies that are completed for segment E from I-10 to 290; F1, from 290 to 249; F2 from 249 to I-45; and segment G to 59 North.” Goronet told the group they have construction contracts for the section from I-10 to Highway 290 and are working on plans for the sections from Highway 290 to U.S. 59 North between Porter and New Caney. The group is also starting to study plans for a section that will stretch between U.S. 59 North to Highway 90. While the construction of the Grand Parkway has been slow, the hope is to start putting construction of the other sections on a fast track. Section E, that stretches from I-10 to Highway 290, is hoped to be completed by 2013 and Goronet said they will be working to build sections of the highway stretching from 290 to the Porter and New Caney area by 2015. Construction contracts still have to be granted and that is expected to take several months. Several other scenarios still need to be decided for Section G, which will end at U.S. 59 between Porter and New Caney, including where direct connectors to the highway will be placed. “We have the eastbound to northbound and southbound to westbound connectors in the plans,” Goronet said. “We had some suggestions that we ought to do the two left turns, eastbound to northbound and northbound to westbound and have the right turns take place on the ground. People feel there will be a fair amount of traffic coming north out of the Kingwood area that will go around on the Grand Parkway, but we still have flexibility on doing that.” Goronet said that a best-case scenario is for section H, that stretches from U.S. 59 to Highway 90, to be complete by 2019, but he expects that date could be delayed depending on the timing of the other phases of construction. Right now the plan for that section of the highway will be for construction along FM 1485 just north of Lake Houston Park. Public hearings were held earlier this year about where residents would like to see the highway built, and those comments will be used in determining the plan for the highway. All of the Grand Parkway is expected to be a toll road to pay both for construction and to pay for maintenance of the highway. Goronet says the Grand Parkway will not only help with traffic from big rigs in Houston, but will also help with hurricane evacuations when the time is necessary. Photo: Grand Parkway’s new proposed routing.