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The Next Ten Years Of Freeways In Houston

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Has anyone actually looked at the Houston-Galveston Area Council's 2025 transportation plan and identified how many new freeways are planned? I spent a couple of hours using their GIS application, trying to identify as many freeways as possible--I found nine seperate freeways all over the Houston area that would be built from scratch or upgraded from ground-level roads, eleven large reconstruction and widening jobs, and ten planned toll roads. Everything I'm about to list is supposed to be completed or at least let for construction and well under way by 2015--that's only ten years from now. They are as follows:

New Freeways (9)

- State Highway 146 from Shoreacres to Texas City

- State Highway 35 from SH 288 in Angleton to FM 528 in Alvin (probably as alternate evacuation route)

- State Highway 35 from Beltway 8 in Pearland to Spur 5 at the University of Houston

- US Highway 90-A from the Southwest Frwy. to Hiram Clarke Drive

- US Highway 90 from the East Belt to the junction of IH-610 East and IH-10 East

- Beltway 8 from the Eastex Frwy. to US Highway 90 in northeast Harris County

- State Highway 249 from Spring Cypress Rd. to FM 149 in Magnolia

- US Highway 290 from Spring Cypress Rd. to ??? (To Austin, I wish...)

- NASA Road 1 Bypass from IH-45 South around SH 3

Reconstructed and Widened Freeways (11)

- Interstate 45 South from Beltway 8 to Broadway Blvd. in Galveston

- Interstate 45 North from IH-10 to IH-610

- Interstate 45 North from Airline (?) to Beltway 8 North

- Interstate 610 South from SH 288 to IH-45

- Interstate 610 West from IH-10 to US 290

- US Highway 59 from ??? (Probably the Rio Grande Valley) to State Highway 6 in Sugar Land

- US Highway 59 from Montrose to IH-45

- US Highway 59 from the West Fork of the San Jacinto River to the Cleveland Bypass

- Interstate 10 West from the Fort Bend County Line to IH-610 West

- Interstate 10 East from the San Jacinto River to State Highway 61 in Anahuac

- US Highway 290 from IH-610 to Spring Cypress Rd

Toll Roads (10)

- GRAND PARKWAY: The whole thing!

*Starting at SH 146 in Baytown, it loops through western Chambers and Liberty Counties

*It will circle around Mount Belview, Crosby, Huffman, and connect with the Eastex Frwy. near Porter

*It will circle around almost all of the Spring area, but will go south of Tomball, at one point overlapping on Beudreaux Rd.

*If you drew a straight line from Beudreaux Rd. going west and a straight line from Peek Rd. going north, that seems to be the alignment of the Parkway, including the sharp turn where the lines meet.

*Between the Katy and Southwest Freeways, the route already exists, some of it as a freeway, but most as a grade-level divided road.

*South and east of Sugar Land, the alignment bulges outward to take in Smithers Lake and a whole lot of nothing. The route not only seems unjustifiable from a market perspective, but is also very inconvenient for those that might use it. I'm sure one day that will be different, but right now, its just confounding.

*The Parkway intersects with SH 288 at its southernmost point, about two or three miles north of FM 1462

*It then feeds into the southern part of the Alvin Bypass (SH 35), becoming temporarily free.

*Where the Alvin Bypass ends, the Parkway takes a jog west toward Interstate 45 South, intersecting at FM 646.

*It follows 646 to SH 146 in Bacliff, where an interchange with the future freeway will be built (other than this interchange, there don't seem to be many throughout the route).

Other toll roads are all spokes to downtown. Going clockwise:

- Hardy Toll Road extension along Hardy/Elysian Roads to the CBD

- From TC Jester at IH-610 North, roughly along the Rock Island RR, up to FM 2920 in Tomball

- Along US 290 or Hempstead Rd from IH-610 West to Beltway 8

- Katy Freeway, right down the middle from the Fort Bend County Line to IH-610 West

- Westpark Tollway (might be counted as complete if the Beltway 8 interchange has openned yet)

- Fort Bend Parkway from IH-610 South to State Highway 6 (completed from Beltway 8 to SH 6)

- State Highway 288's median from US Highway 59 (near Downtown) to Grand Parkway

- From IH-610 South at Mykawa to the Alvin Bypass/Grand Parkway

- Fairmont Parkway (I think it might also be aligned along Red Bluff) from SH 146 to Beltway 8 in Pasadena/Deer Park area

Out of all of these, I'd expect that the US 90 route to the northeast combined with the northeast Grand Parkway would actually have the most impact. That area is relatively close to town, but nothing is there. It's like Pearland ten years ago.

The most questionable, on the other hand, has to be the Alvin routes. Between the South Loop and the Beltway, there is both a toll road and free-access highway planned, seemingly just like the Katy is planned. Probably not as wide, but they will be roads within roads. Next most questionable is the Fairmont Parkway toll road. I'm betting that it's alignment will take a jog down Red Bluff when all is said and done. If both Fairmont and Alvin routes are completed, the Gulf Freeway will be cured of a lot of cars. People like the coast, too...so as long as FEMA hands out checks to hurricane victims, people will continue moving where the water is. Its kind of funny in a way--some of the roads to the Galveston Bay area will be funded by the state as evacuation routes, only to give rise to more people that will need to be evacuated, requiring more routes.

Its amazing that the Chronicle hasn't picked up on this master plan. I've heard them talk about one segment or another, but they've never really covered it from the grander perspective.

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Guest Plastic

Funny but the one I think we need is along HWy 6.

AN exress route is needed for HWY 6 and 1960. Houston has 3 circular freewas,The Loop,The Belt,and Grand PKWY. But we'r emissing one were HWY6 and FM1960 are.

I propose we build one. Starting from were the Grand Parkway curves at Harlem Rd build a tollway the would work it's way North throug h Bush park to I-10. Close to Barker -Cypress it would work it's way north to 290. Can't remember the road but then it would tur Northeast.

From there it would got o 249 and ride along Cypress Creek/Bayou.

From there there are no houses or obstrunction and work it's way to I-45. about 1 mile North of 1960. From there it would work it 50 just North of Deerbrook Mall.

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There was a freeway proposed at one point along the railroad tracks in Memorial Park, I don't know if that one was killed or not.

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Actually, only a small fraction of those projects (maybe 33%) will happen in the next 10 years due to funding limitations and public opposition. A larger fraction (maybe 66%) will probably happen in 20 years.

The freeway and tollway construction program likely had its peak in 2004 and will be in long term decline. Funding limitations are the main reason, but political reasons will also play a big role. Judge Eckels has been a main ramrod in the last 10 years, but my impression is that he is backing off due to opposition from his constituents in places like Spring. The decline will be a slow decline so progress will be made. Here is my assessment.

New Freeways (9)

- State Highway 146 from Shoreacres to Texas City

The official study recommended a freeway only from Red Bluff northward. The rest is improved arterial or express lanes. That recommendation could be revisited due to hurricane evacuation. I expect this project to be expedited and a lot of work done within 10 years.

http://www.dot.state.tx.us/hou/mis/sh146/update112003.htm

- State Highway 35 from SH 288 in Angleton to FM 528 in Alvin (probably as alternate evacuation route)

- State Highway 35 from Beltway 8 in Pearland to Spur 5 at the University of Houston

According to the official study this will not be a freeway/tollway from Alvin to Angleton.

ftp://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/...35/feasible.pdf

I don't expect the SH 35 main lanes from UH to BW 8 to be built within 10 years. Possible, but unlikely.

- US Highway 90-A from the Southwest Frwy. to Hiram Clarke Drive

This is under construction and will NOT be a freeway, but instead an expressway (mostly grade-separated but not limited access). There will be at least two traffic lights in Missouri City after work is done.

- US Highway 90 from the East Belt to the junction of IH-610 East and IH-10 East

Yes, this will be a new greenfield freeway and major contracts will be awarded in the next 6 months. It should be done in 10 years.

- Beltway 8 from the Eastex Frwy. to US Highway 90 in northeast Harris County

This will be a tollway but it is currently on hold due to the HCTRA/TxDOT conflict. It will almost surely be built by someone within 10 years, possibly within 5 years if the conflict is resolved.

- State Highway 249 from Spring Cypress Rd. to FM 149 in Magnolia

This will be tolled and it will be contingent on adequate traffic volume. It is not a sure thing to be built within 10 years. Maybe the section around Tomball, but the rest is likely after 2015.

- US Highway 290 from Spring Cypress Rd. to ??? (To Austin, I wish...)

- US Highway 290 from IH-610 to Spring Cypress Rd

This is the planned total rebuild of US 290 with the addition of a toll road on Hempstead highway. This is also on hold due to the HCTRA-TxDOT conflict. My best guess is that the tollway will be built within 10 years and only parts of the US 290 rebuild will happen - mainly the section near the west loop and probably the section west of the tollway (probably west of Jones Road). In the long run (say by 2025), the entire project will probably be built. It TxDOT takes it over, they will have no reason to hurry up because it would take traffic off the Hempstead tollway.

- NASA Road 1 Bypass from IH-45 South around SH 3

Under construction and a contract for work at I-45 was recently awarded. Not really a "new" project.

Reconstructed and Widened Freeways (11)

- Interstate 45 South from Beltway 8 to Broadway Blvd. in Galveston

Some of this will happen in the next 10 years. Probably the section from BW 8 to NASA 1.

- Interstate 45 North from IH-10 to IH-610

- Interstate 45 North from Airline (?) to Beltway 8 North

This still has years of study to go before approval is received. There is opposition which could scuttle work inside Loop 610. Work is not projected to begin until around 2015. So no progress in the next 10 years.

- Interstate 610 South from SH 288 to IH-45

I don't expect this in the next 10 years, given the other more pressing needs.

- Interstate 610 West from IH-10 to US 290

This will likely be built within 10 years and will likely be the first job on the US 290 renovation (and possibly the only one before 2015).

- US Highway 59 from ??? (Probably the Rio Grande Valley) to State Highway 6 in Sugar Land

We will probably see the expansion pushed toward Richmond/Rosenberg. A contract for work at the Grand Parkway will be awarded in the next few months. I would expect about 5 miles to be redone in the next 10 years.

- US Highway 59 from Montrose to IH-45

That is still under study and work is in the distant future. It may be done within 10 years, depending on how extensive the recommendation is. If it is a low-cost project (say $100 million or less), it will likely get done. If more, look for it to go on the back burner.

- US Highway 59 from the West Fork of the San Jacinto River to the Cleveland Bypass

About $140 million in contracts will be awarded this year to push the expansion northward. We could see a few more miles added but I don't expect work to be done all the way to Cleveland.

- Interstate 10 West from the Fort Bend County Line to IH-610 West

Already under construction. Not really a "new" project.

- Interstate 10 East from the San Jacinto River to State Highway 61 in Anahuac

A lot of this is already done (years ago). The Trinity River bridge will be replaced in the next 10 years.

Toll Roads (10)

- GRAND PARKWAY: The whole thing!

Well, probably not the whole thing in 10 years. Oppostion is strong and getting stronger on the F-2 section, and cancellation of that section could throw a monkey wrench into all the work on the north side. Things look better on the west and south. I think we will see section E (I-10W to US 290) built relatively soon. The south sections will likely get built within 10 years for hurricane evacuation even though they may not be financially viable in the near term. The northeast section is a wildcard but I don't expect to see it in 10 years. This project is also caught up in the HCTRA-TxDOT conflict.

Other toll roads are all spokes to downtown. Going clockwise:

- Hardy Toll Road extension along Hardy/Elysian Roads to the CBD

Yes, this will be built within 10 years, probably within 5 years.

- From TC Jester at IH-610 North, roughly along the Rock Island RR, up to FM 2920 in Tomball

That project is dead due to opposition from Inwood Forest and the railroad's unwillingness to sell property. I recall it was officially removed from HGAC planning documents - I'm surprised you found it (probably a case of documentation not being updated).

- Along US 290 or Hempstead Rd from IH-610 West to Beltway 8

See above, probably will be built within 10 years.

- Katy Freeway, right down the middle from the Fort Bend County Line to IH-610 West

Under construction, not a "new" project

- Westpark Tollway (might be counted as complete if the Beltway 8 interchange has openned yet)

Yes, it is complete or will be within a few weeks.

- Fort Bend Parkway from IH-610 South to State Highway 6 (completed from Beltway 8 to SH 6)

This project is facing oppostion and I rate it as a 66% chance of being built within 10 years. A lot depends on how much traffic the adjacent section of the tollway has in future years. More traffic = higher probability of being built.

- State Highway 288's median from US Highway 59 (near Downtown) to Grand Parkway

Some of this will likely be built within 10 years. Most likely from Pearland to Loop 610.

- From IH-610 South at Mykawa to the Alvin Bypass/Grand Parkway

The recommendation just recently was made, and no construction is imminent. Only the section from Loop 610 to BW 8 is a tollway; south of BW8, the recommendation is for improving the existing road. I'm inclined to believe that the strange alignment along MLK from Beltway 8 southward to Alvin will be built first. It would feed traffic onto BW 8 south and then onto the toll lanes in the center of 288. It's hard to say when the section between 610 and Mykawa will be built.

- Fairmont Parkway (I think it might also be aligned along Red Bluff) from SH 146 to Beltway 8 in Pasadena/Deer Park area

I think that has been studied by HCTRA and rated as not financially feasible. That could change, but I don't see it being built within 10 years.

Its amazing that the Chronicle hasn't picked up on this master plan. I've heard them talk about one segment or another, but they've never really covered it from the grander perspective.

They report on projects regularly. The have reported on the grand scheme, but not lately. I remember an article called "2025, a traffic odyssey"

The Rita evacuation fiasco will likely shift priorities since that HGAC document was made. SH 146 improvements will be expedited, SH 36 (not SH 35) will be expedited as a 4-lane highway, and the Grand Parkway south sections will be expedited.

Another item you did not mention is the Trans-Texas Corridor I-69 bypass. I don't believe there is any justification for this mega-bypss, but don't rule it out. TxDOT higher-ups are talking about it as if it is going to happen and it could happen within 10 years.

http://www.keeptexasmoving.org/flash/inter...interactive.htm

The final item influencing this is the HCTRA-TxDOT dispute. If it drags on for years, some projects (notably Grand Parkway F-2) could fall by the wayside.

There was a freeway proposed at one point along the railroad tracks in Memorial Park, I don't know if that one was killed or not.

I can't say it has been permanently and irrevocably killed, but it is dead for the indefinite future. The issue came up in 2003 and all politicians of all stripes lined up against it.

I think a tollway in that corridor would also be contingent on relocating the railroad. That too is unlikely.

So rate the project as dead.

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Interesting post!

I was reading through the 2006-2008 TIP on the H-GAC website yesterday and noticed that Segment F-2 of the Grand Parkway did not have all of its' funding in place yet. They're still shy about $30 million dollars. I guess that's the part that they expect HCTRA to put in, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

Also, just got word today that the Public Hearing tentatively scheduled for January 25 & 26 at Klein Collins for the Revised SDEIS of Segment F-2 has been pushed back till possibly March, April or May. The Grand Parkway Association was expecting FHWA to complete their review of the SDEIS before the end of 2005, but that hasn't happened, hence the delay there. Meanwhile, major landowners in the affected path of the ever-changing alignment of Segment F-2 are gearing up to do legal battle with the State of Texas, if necessary. So much for the expectation on the part of the Grand Parkway Association to have all the land donated.

One more thing from the TIP, just above where the Segment F-2 of the Grand Parkway (or Texas State Highway 99) is mentioned, another section of the Grand Parkway has received funding for a sound wall. The funds needed to build it are coming from federal and state, but not local dollars. On a side note regarding opposition, since Senator Jon Lindsay has decided not to run for re-election, several of the people running for his seat are announcing their opposition to the placement of the Segment F-2 alignment through the Spring area, such as Mark Ellis and Joe Nixon and possibly Dan Patrick. Other politicians have already publicly supported the opposition effort, such as U.S. Congressman Ted Poe and State Rep. Debbie Riddle and Nick Lampson.

Edited by pineda

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Interesting post!

Meanwhile, major landowners in the affected path of the ever-changing alignment of Segment F-2 are gearing up to do legal battle with the State of Texas, if necessary. So much for the expectation on the part of the Grand Parkway Association to have all the land donated

Right now I would rate the chances that F-2 will be built at around 60%. My guesstimate is that the chances for construction are dropping around 1.5% every month that approval and right-of-way acquisition clearance is not received. So if things are not moving forward by the end of 2006, I'd say there is a 40-45% chance it will be built.

There are two factors that could save F-2 and get it built. First, this section will be profitable and TxDOT (as well as HCTRA and private investors) are greedy. Second, this could be part of a new hurricane evacuation plan. While it is true that the F-2 section is less critical for evacuation than other sections, it will be beneficial in dispersing traffic and a complete loop is far better than a loop with a missing section.

But I certainly agree, the clock is ticking and with each passing month F-2 is becoming less likely.

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Beltway 8 from the Eastex Frwy. to US Highway 90 in northeast Harris County

BW8 already connects with 90. So I assume this would be the extension of BW8E to I-10?

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I wonder what gas prices will look like in 10 years? That on top of new tolls for the new toll roads? Hmmmmm.

Torchlight- you didn't ask me but I'll bet my bottom dollar that route for the Fort Bend Tollway through Westbury (I cringe everytime I think of a freeway through there) is going to be congested like the Westpark Tollway, and anyone who doesn't think so is dillusional and not very observant.

For a while now, I have wondered if pouring AS MUCH concrete as we have planned for the future is the wisest and best direction for Houston. But after seeing a comprehensive layout of it above, I am even more skeptical about it. Are some of these projects necessary, of course, but as a whole, I am afraid we have made plans to attack Houston 2025 problems with Houston 1984 solutions.

If my opinion is right that we have too much concrete planned in our future, when will we as Houstonians realize it? And why haven't we realized it sooner? Yeah, I think the Chronicle or a TV news station have a interesting story waiting to be investigated.

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BW8 already connects with 90. So I assume this would be the extension of BW8E to I-10?

BW8 connects to US90 heading north from I-10 already. Maybe they're refering to the section between US59 & US90, where there are only feeder roads?

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where there are only feeder roads?

Must be. That is a busy route, getting busier.

When they do that, they'll need connectors from 59 to the BW8 East. That will be nice.

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Max, I live not too far away from South Post Oak, the putative route of the Fort Bend Tollway's link to IH 610. Do you really think this project is a good idea? Won't it end up being congested during rush hour, just like the Westpark Tollway?

Here's the thing: all the vehicles coming to Houston on the Fort Bend Parkway have to go somewhere. Vehicles not connecting to BW8 have two choices: continue on US 90A, or take a left at Post Oak to reach the west loop.

I think eventually those two options will be overwhelmed, particularly the signalized intersection at US 90 and Loop 610.

So the question becomes, do we want the street level congestion caused by vehicles coming off the tollway?

Also, if the Fort Bend Parkway becomes congested, where will the bottleneck occur? Northbound, I would expect it to occur south of Beltway 8, not between South Main and Loop 610. That is because the connections to Loop 610 have ample capacity, in contrast to the Westpark Tollway's poorly designed connections.

Southbound, I would expect the bottleneck also to occur around Beltway 8, since that is where substantial additional traffic will be entering. I would not expect backups around Westbury.

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I'll be anxious to see what 290 and I-45 will look like when they are done. I think they could have done a better job designing these freeways, especially 290 since I hear it was built around the same time as 288.

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The freeway and tollway construction program likely had its peak in 2004 and will be in long term decline. Funding limitations are the main reason, but political reasons will also play a big role. Judge Eckels has been a main ramrod in the last 10 years, but my impression is that he is backing off due to opposition from his constituents in places like Spring. The decline will be a slow decline so progress will be made. Here is my assessment.

Is Dallas still going full steam ahead with its tollways? Ive been seeing more an more interchanges going up around there in the last five years.

Edited by CE_ugh

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i love the houston freeway book, i look at it every day. and there should defantly be a freeway down hwy 6 and 1960. trying to get any where on hwy 6 takes for ever. and if they dont build a freeway they should at least syncronize the lights to make traffic move smother. i try to avoide hwy 6 any way possible. you cant get through 2 lights whithout stoping it drives me nuts.

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trying to get any where on hwy 6 takes for ever. and if they dont build a freeway they should at least syncronize the lights to make traffic move smother. i try to avoide hwy 6 any way possible. you cant get through 2 lights whithout stoping it drives me nuts.

It has gotten simply horrendous! So bad in fact, that they're building a flyover at N. Hwy. and FM 529. Can you even imagine such a monstrosity at that little locale?

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I hope that was a joke about running a freeway along Cypress Creek. It is THE geographical landmark of Northwest Houston... dozens of parks run along its banks. It is why most people live out here - why all that land between central Houston and 1960 was skipped over back in the 70's. Maybe people will just have to realize that they can't have everything.

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I hope that was a joke about running a freeway along Cypress Creek. It is THE geographical landmark of Northwest Houston... dozens of parks run along its banks. It is why most people live out here - why all that land between central Houston and 1960 was skipped over back in the 70's. Maybe people will just have to realize that they can't have everything.

Maybe not a joke, but clearly uninformed, since the County is spending large amounts of money to create parkland along this tributary. It is vital to flood control efforts, and the commissioners in this area of the county have realized the quality of life potential for Cypress Creek and Spring Creek to the north.

Don't look for any freeway discussions for this land anytime soon.

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