The Texas Department of Transportation is holding a series of public hearings regarding proposed improvements to the Grand Parkways between I-10 and FM 1093. Suggested upgrades to the roadway are …
The Texas Department of Transportation is holding a series of public hearings regarding proposed improvements to the Grand Parkways between I-10 and FM 1093. Suggested upgrades to the roadway are primarily the addition of north-bound and south-bound lanes and sound barriers to protect quality of life for nearby homeowners said Megan Luschen, who presented the project during the first virtual hearing held Aug. 31.
“The proposed project is needed due to current and projected growth in the area, causing traffic demand to increase. In addition, the existing facility does not have adequate capacity to accommodate current mobility needs,” Luschen said.
The expansion of the roadways is expected to cost about $85 million and will be paid for with a mix of state and federal funds, Luschen said. The project is fully funded already, and construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2022 and is expected to last about two years. Various needs and environmental assessments have already been completed she said and no significant environmental impacts were noted. Only about 0.01 acres of wetlands will be affected by the widening of the parkway.
From I-10 to the north side of Highland Knolls Boulevard, an additional lane would be added to the parkway itself. A cable barrier would be added to prevent vehicles from crossing the median, according to TxDOT documents. Additionally, upgrades to the frontage roads such as some added right-turn lanes and improvements to ramps would be integrated.
South of Highland Knolls Boulevard to FM 1093, the main portion of the parkway would be included in the widening plan, Luschen said. However, proposed access roads on the east and west side of the parkway would be addressed by Fort Bend County and the Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority.
“These are separate projects proposed by other agencies, outside of TxDOT, and are not addressed in this virtual public hearing,” Luschen said.
In a previous interview with the Katy Times, Fort Bend County Assistant Engineer Ike Akinwande said the county is working to add access roads on either side of the Grand Parkway south of Cinco Ranch Boulevard. The county’s projects are expected to cost just about $4.9 million from 2017 transportation bond authorizations and some matching funds from the state. Construction on those projects was anticipated to begin late in 2021 depending on how long design takes.
Luschen said TXDoT had held prior public hearings related to the project and, after hearing a great deal of feedback related to noise issues the expansion may cause nearby residential areas, has added funding for multiple sound barriers to the project at key points along its length. Four of the barriers will be on rights of way already owned by TXDoT. However, eight of those are located in rights of ways held by municipal utility districts and TXDoT is working with those MUDs to move forward with noise-reducing walls.
The sides of the noise barriers facing the Grand Parkway will be uniform with a cement face and support pillars along their lengths while area residents will be able to choose a façade for the sides facing residential areas.
Full details and a recorded copy of the presentation made during the virtual public hearing may be found at https://bit.ly/2Y5O9YS. An in-person hearing is scheduled for Sept. 2 from 3-7 p.m.
Comments regarding the hearings are due by Sept. 17 at 5 p.m. and may be submitted by calling 713-802-5269 and referencing projects 3510-04-019 and 3510-05-041.
“In the next steps of the environmental process, all comments received during the comment period will be reviewed and responses to comments will be provided in the official public hearing record,” Luschen said.