Fort Bend County officials and community members gathered April 11 for the official ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of Grand Parkway Segment D—a project several years in the making.
“It is always a great day when you can celebrate the opening of a new facility that will truly address mobility congestion in this area,” said Mike Alford, Houston district engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation. “This project has been a long time coming, and we have a lot of momentum on the Grand Parkway now.”
Segment D, which stretches from Hwy. 59 in Sugar Land north to I-10, consists of two main lanes in each direction, nine overpasses and seven toll plazas. Completion of the overpass at FM 1093 is the final step in the completion of Segment D. The southbound lanes at the interchange are slated to open to traffic April 12, and the northbound lanes are expected to open April 15. Once completed, motorists traveling either direction will be able to drive the corridor in about 15 minutes for $2.45, according to the Grand Parkway Association.
“There are a lot of people who had a hand in making this project come to fruition,” Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert said. “Very shortly [motorists] will be able to run all the way around Houston from Hwy. 59 north to Hwy. 59 south. That is a very necessary improvement in traffic flow. There will be no [traffic] lights all the way around.”
New development has been sprouting up throughout Houston as the Grand Parkway corridor continues to develop, and much more is expected, said Keri Schmidt, president of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce.
“In less than five years, this entire corridor will be completely different,” she said.
Converting Segment D to a toll road cost about $147 million in construction. The road's overpasses allow motorists to avoid traffic lights by paying tolls. The toll road is limited to drivers with a state-issued toll tag, but the frontage roads have remained accessible to all traffic at no cost.
Segment D of the Grand Parkway first opened to traffic in 1994. Several other segments of the toll road have been recently completed, are under construction or are being designed. Once completed, the Grand Parkway will traverse seven counties over more than 185 miles.
Segment E, which stretches from I-10 north to Hwy. 290 in Cy–Fair, opened in late 2013. Segments F1, F2 and G are under construction and will connect Hwy. 290 to Hwy. 59.
The Grand Parkway was originally conceptualized in the 1960s, but ground did not break on the three northern segments until mid-2013. TxDOT signed an agreement in 2012 with developer Zachry-Odebrecht Parkway Builders to construct segments F-1, F-2 and G simultaneously for approximately $1 billion in an effort to move forward on the project that is expected to improve mobility in the Greater Houston area.
TxDOT has regained primacy of all segments of the Grand Parkway except for Segment D, which is still managed by Fort Bend County. The county—in partnership with the Grand Parkway Association and the Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Road Authority—is working on designs for Segment C, which is expected to connect Hwy. 59 in Sugar Land to Hwy. 288 to the east and eventually tie in with the Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road in Missouri City. A timeline for Segment C has not been identified.
Source: Impact News