TxDOT details plans for Highway 288 managed toll lanes

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- For those traveling on Highway 288, you know bumper-to-bumper traffic has become a daily experience, thanks to the growing population.

"Rush hour - it's a disaster," says Bruce Willis.

"It just gets so congested and moving at like 5-10 mph for many hours in the morning and in the afternoon," adds Leslie Carrio.

But TxDOT plans to help alleviate the congestion by expanding the highway. The plan is to create a toll facility to run from downtown to the Harris County Line. Then, the managed lanes will continue into Brazoria Country.

"You'll see the median - that grassy area now - and that will be managed lanes there," says Public Information Officer Danny Perez with TxDOT.

"You'll have two northbound and two southbound lanes," he continues.

In addition, direct connectors will be built at Beltway 8 and at IH-610, along with a direct connector at Holcombe into and out of the Medical Center.

"Having a direct connect allows folks to avoid secondary roads and get to the medical center in a quicker manner, quicker fashion," says Perez.

While this is an $800 million project, only $27.6 million was awarded from the state. So, in a unique partnership, this project will be funded by the outside contractor Blueridge Transportation Group.

"They will be reimbursed by the tolls on the roadway once it's open and optional," Perez explains.

The toll road should be open by 2019. Construction begins in 2016.

"I think it is a great idea. We need it so bad," says Carrio.

But not everybody thinks a toll road is the way to go.

"Once you start a toll, you know, it never goes away," says Allen Smith.

TxDOT has not determined the pricing on tolls, and a common question from many is: why not just expand the existing highway? TxDOT says while that may be an option in the future, right now there isn't enough funding for that type of construction, and since this project is isolated on the median, it allows them to move quicker without major closures.
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