Plans to turn Hwy. 249 into a toll road have entered the final design stage with construction slated to begin in the fall. The Harris County Toll Road Authority is overseeing the engineering process while Precinct 4 approved the initial funding for the $335 million project provided by HCTRA, and Precinct 4 commissioner Jack Cagle said the project has been highly anticipated.
"Since my first day in office, I have heard from people not just in Tomball, but the entire region that getting to work as quickly as possible on the expansion of Hwy. 249 was critical to regional mobility," he said. "Meeting the needs of the explosive growth we are currently experiencing—and will continue to experience—in Precinct 4 will help us to attract and manage the prosperity and quality of life that comes with more new neighbors and more new jobs."
With companies such as Baker Hughes, Noble Energy and ExxonMobil expanding their presence in the area, establishing Hwy. 249 as a major thoroughfare is expected to help Northwest Houston keep up with unprecedented growth, Cagle said.
Phase 1 of the project will implement the future Tomball Tollway from Spring Cypress Road to the Montgomery County line as a six-lane, all-electronic tolled roadway segment, which means instead of traditional toll plazas, toll trusses—structures comprised of multiple triangles connected by several joints—will be built using sensors and photographic equipment.
The road project will advance to FM 1774 in Montgomery County, and the Texas Department of Transportation has plans to extend the project to Hwy. 6 in coming years.
As part of a memorandum of understanding signed between Harris and Montgomery counties in January, Harris County Precinct 4—which is comprised of more than 1 million residents—approved lending Montgomery County between $15–$20 million to move the project along through HCTRA.
"[Precinct 2] commissioner [Craig] Doyle has been a great partner in our efforts as has Rep. Allen Fletcher," Cagle said. "This has been a true partnership in terms of recognizing the need as not simply local, but truly regional. To that end, we have exercised a conservative economic approach to expanding our traffic capacity without extra burden to taxpayers."