The Texas Department of Transportation and Harris County officials have been working on a plan to complete Segment E of the Grand Parkway. Segment E will run for 15.2 miles through Northwest Houston between Highway 290 and Interstate 10.
In June, Charles Dean, the Harris County Public Infrastructure Department program manager, sent a memorandum to the County Budget Officer recommending Harris County move forward with the engineering design of the Grand Parkway and hold off on construction plans for a toll road on Highway 290.
“It has become apparent that not every needed mobility improvement can be addressed by developing a toll road,” Dean said in the memorandum.
According to Dean, the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) had concerns about the toll road segment of the Highway 290 project after viewing the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Final Environmental Impact Statement.
The HCTRA website says that TxDOT is currently addressing comments from the Federal Highway Authority on the environmental impact statement and that the Highway 290 project is dependent upon a formalized agreement with TxDOT.
Dean recommended the county continue with the engineering design, right-of-way acquisitions and a Comprehensive Traffic and Revenue study for the Grand Parkway.
At the Commissioners Court meetings on July 13 and July 27, the court approved more than $250,000 in contract extensions with engineering firms that are designing plans for Segment E of the Grand Parkway between Hwy. 290 and I-10.
Although engineering contracts are moving forward, Dean’s memorandum estimates that construction would not start on the Grand Parkway for at least one year.
Segment E has been at the center of some controversial construction issues. Many environmentalists have spoken out against construction since a segment of the parkway will stretch over the Katy Prairie, a wetlands area and a wildlife habitat. In May, a U.S. District judge ruled in favor of TxDOT and FHWA, and dismissed the case.