Construction has begun on the two direct-connect flyovers at I-45 and Hwy. 242, a $34 million project aimed at alleviating traffic congestion along both thoroughfares. The project includes a north-to-westbound flyover from I-45 to Hwy. 242 and an east-to-southbound direct connector from Hwy. 242 to I-45.
“I think the direct connectors are critical to the movement of traffic at those intersections,” Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Craig Doyal said. “Traffic backs up from I-45 northbound to 242 westbound for a long way.”
Doyal said construction began in May and the project is facing an 18-month timeframe, with an expected completion in November of 2014. The first phases of construction are bridge foundations.
Rick Kronenberger, project manager for PTP Transportation—the consulting firm hired by Montgomery County to oversee the project—said lanes on the northbound and southbound feeder roads just south of Hwy. 242 have been closed as construction has begun.
Kronenberger said future lane closures are likely as the project progresses, although the closures will be made during times with the least impact on traffic.
“There will be times coming up, several months into the future on the northbound frontage road, where there will be nighttime work, and crews will close down additional lanes to build columns that extend out,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to limit the impacts.”
The Hwy. 242 direct connect project is the final project of the county’s pass-through bond program voters approved in 2005, and it will be the only one of the six that will operate exclusively as a toll road.
As part of the pass-through funding program, the county paid for and constructed widenings or new roadways on FM 1488, FM 1314, FM 1485 and FM 1484. For those roadways, the county was reimbursed by the Texas Department of Transportation over time for the cost of the project, Doyal said.
The county is paying the $34 million cost to construct the Hwy. 242 flyovers and will be reimbursed through toll revenue, Doyal said. However, the amount of tolls has not been determined.
Doyal said the toll plazas will be operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority and will not offer coin-operated booths, but rather will only be accessible for vehicles with toll tags, such as an EZ-TAG.