Commissioners approve Grand Pkwy expansion

February 24, 2009 3:21:18 PM PST
Thousands of motorists will soon have a faster way to get around. On Tuesday, county commissioners agreed to go ahead with the building of a new segment of the Grand Parkway. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

For two decades, this has been the idea a 185-mile circle outside of the Beltway through seven counties. But so far, less than 30 miles have been built. The section that got the green light today extends the Grand Parkway on the west side.

Jimmy Hutson doesn't like driving any farther than he has to, so connecting the Katy to the Northwest Freeway provides Hutson a fast way out of town.

"I'm actually headed to Austin, so that would keep me from hitting all the lights on Fry Road so it would be a quick shot to 290 then on to Austin," he said.

Harris County Commissioners Court heard from nearly a dozen people opposing the expansion. Yet despite the opposing input, commissioners court voted to approve another step in expanding the Grand Parkway.

Called Segment E, the 14-mile roadway would link I-10 to 290 North. The stretch of road would be a toll way. An area right now with limited growth, most development is centered around I-10 and around 290 with not much in between. However, developers are busy and building the link is seen by county leaders as a needed project.

"It's a decision that has to be made," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. "Do you get in front of growth? Do you lag behind growth? Do we add to congestion by not building this? This is not a new project."

"The argument about getting in front of the growth is baloney. If you look all over our region, development follows the roadways," countered Robin Holzer with the Citizens transportation Coalition. "Infrastructure comes first and then the development."

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