Construction on segment G of the Grand Parkway, which affects Southeast Montgomery County, could begin in the first quarter of 2014, while the Texas Department of Transportation has plans to construct sound barriers for some nearby neighborhoods to mitigate noise concerns.
Members of the Grand Parkway Association and TxDOT presented information on the Grand Parkway at an open forum at Kaufman Elementary School Aug. 1, an event hosted by the Rayford Road Civic Association. Although information was provided on the entirety of the 184-mile project—which will circle the greater Houston area—most of the discussion regarded segments F1, F2 and particularly G, which includes portions of Southeast Montgomery County.
TxDOT Deputy Project Manager Rob Maxwell said construction of the portions of segment G that impact South Montgomery County should begin in the first and second quarters of 2014. Maxwell said the 845-day construction contract began March 22, 2013 and ends July 15, 2015, when construction on segments F1, F2 and G should be complete.
Those three segments total 38 miles of highway and connects Hwy. 290 to Hwy. 59, said David Gornet, executive director of the Grand Parkway Association. Although Gornet said the three segments compose only 15 percent of the overall population of the area which the Grand Parkway affects, about 33 percent of the population growth around Grand Parkway comes from those three segments.
“We want to be able to accommodate growth and traffic demand and allow for growth around Houston to continue,” Gornet said.
Gornet said segment G will provide several overpasses in the area, including at I-45, the Hardy Toll Road, Rayford Road and Birnham Woods Drive. He said noise abatement walls about 12-16-feet tall will also be installed to mitigate noise for the Spring Trails, Fox Run, Lockeridge Farms and Fox Run subdivisions. However, Gornet said Bender’s Landing did not meet requirements for noise abatements, which state the wall can cost no more than $25,000 per noise receiver.
Maxwell said he did not know the construction timetable of the sound walls.
Residents expressed concerns about their ability to exit their subdivisions onto Riley Fuzzell Road, which runs parallel to the planned Grand Parkway. Gornet said subdivisions such as Spring Trails and Lockeridge Farms may have only one exit currently, but the developer of the nearby Harmony community should allow residents a second entrance and exit point onto Riley Fuzzell Road in the future.
Although officials did not comment on the impact of the planned Grand Parkway on Rayford Road traffic, Gornet said motorists traveling from the eastern side of Rayford Road would have a faster route to I-45 taking the Grand Parkway, saving themselves about three miles of distance and shortening their overall drive time significantly.
He said the Grand Parkway will be a toll road, requiring motorists to have a tag present on their vehicles, but he believes it may be worth it for motorists looking to save time.
“It might be worth a dollar to save the three miles rather than driving down Rayford [Road],” he said.
Gornet and Maxwell said TxDOT will try to minimize the impact of construction on the community and the area. Gornet said efforts are even being taken to mitigate the effects of the Grand Parkway on the Spring Creek Greenway. A 400-foot right of way has been purchased across the greenway, but Gornet said the road will only use about 88 feet of it. Some trees may need to be removed on either side.
Gornet said the Grand Parkway could have a significant impact on development and property values in the area, as well. Since the first segment of the Grand Parkway was constructed from Hwy. 59 to I-10, the property value of the nearby land increased from $600 million in 1994 to over $10 billion in assessed values in 2011.
“A lot of stuff has been built from I-10 to [Hwy.] 59 in that Katy to Sugar Land corridor,” he said.
For more information on the Grand Parkway, visit the project’s website at www.grandparkway99.com