Work Moves Into The Next Phase On Ambitious Freeway Loop Project

Groundbreaking ceremonies will take place later this month for the newest segments of the Grand Parkway. Work is just getting underway on sections that connect major freeways that travel into Houston from the northwest. But what does all the construction mean for commuters?

Once it's finished, the Grand Parkway will pass through seven counties as it makes a 180-mile loop around metro Houston. Only a couple of segments are open right now, but work is about to get underway on three parkway segments in the rapidly-growing areas to the northwest.

The new segments with allow drivers to connect between U.S. 290, State Highway 249, I-45, and U.S. 59.

"Today if you want to go east-west between 45 and 249, you would have to take 2920, which is a pretty congested road particularly during the rush hours."

That's David Gornet, the executive director of the Grand Parkway Association. He says crews have just started clearing the way for segments F-1, F-2, and G. Those segments total about 38 miles. The price tag is just over a billion dollars.

"TxDOT is going to sell bonds that will be paid back with revenue from the tolls that will be connected on the Grand Parkway."

But once crews actually start building the road, what does it mean for commuters who funnel into Houston on the busy freeways from the north?

Gornet says the parkway is designed to provide for a continuous flow of traffic so that means a lot of the work will happen overhead.

"Because we're just crossing over, particularly at 290, 249, and 45 North, we're just crossing over the existing roads. The average commuter will not notice for quite a bit of time any impact. The biggest inpact is going to be, say, on a weekend when they have to hang beams over the road."

"Much of the work that's being done is along routes that don't currently exist. It will be a new alignment."

Raquel Lewis with TxDOT says when Grand Parkway construction does affect commuters, the construction company is bound by its contract to put out information ahead of the work.

"We believe that whenever you can provide people information in advance so they can plan their travel so they can select alternate routes, it's going to be better. Not only for the workers, but for the motorists themselves."

Officials say the new segments are expected to open before the end of 2015.

Later this year, Grand Parkway Segment E will open. That's the part between I-10 and U.S. 290. When that happens, drivers will be able to travel from 59 South to 290 without hitting a red light.

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...