Segments F-1 and F-2 of the Grand Parkway, which consist of tolled roadway from Hwy. 290 to I-45, are expected to be completed by the end of 2015. However, portions of Segment G, the road connecting I-45 and Hwy. 59, is projected to be complete in the first quarter of 2016, according to Grand Parkway officials.
David Gornet, executive director of The Grand Parkway Association, said segments F-1, F-2 and G—38 miles of tolled road from Hwy. 290 to Hwy. 59—are close to being completed, with construction overseen by the Texas Department of Transportation.
“Construction is moving along,” Gornet said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to get it done as quickly as possible. They’re working as quickly as they can. I know it’s been frustrating for people who live in that area.”
Gornet said the construction has come with challenges with the recent bad weather slowing down construction.
However, once opened, the segments will increase accessibility and mobility when traveling from Hwy. 249 to I-45 and The Woodlands area while also providing a faster route to Hwy. 59.
“This is definitely going to allow people to move around more easily,” Gornet said. “It’s also going to be good safety-wise; the ride will go more smoothly.”
Although there has been some negative feedback from residents in the area concerning the construction of the Grand Parkway, Gornet said now that the area around the Grand Parkway is growing, more people are changing their mind.
“Of course, there are some negative comments, but some naysayers have changed their minds,” he said. “It should be good for everyone. Current residents will see more mobility. It will be good to buy or sell houses in the area, and businesses can move around more easily with developers’ land values going up.”
The newly constructed segments are also expected to bring a rise in development to areas along the Grand Parkway.
New communities, office buildings and businesses are already in the process of being established, with future projects planned as completion of the Grand Parkway draws near.
Paul Layne, executive vice president of master planned communities for The Howard Hughes Corporation, said more office developments will be established in The Woodlands area as a result of Segment F-2 opening.
“It’s absolutely going to bring in more communities and businesses,” Layne said. “The opening of the parkway from Hwy. 290 to I-45 is going to allow commuters to The Woodlands a more rapid commute and, frankly, allow office tenants and customers the ability to get to The Woodlands faster.”
Layne said the new roadway will cut commute time in half not only for people who work in The Woodlands, but also for those who live in other areas across Houston.
“Ideally, all employees would live in The Woodlands, but if some live outside, this will allow people in the Hwy. 249 and Bridgeland areas to just get on the parkway and go,” Layne said.
Layne said he is looking forward to the future development and is expecting the Grand Parkway to be a success.
“There is going to be a flurry of land purchases along the Grand Parkway,” he said. “This is going to redefine North Houston.”
Besides office developments along the Grand Parkway that will bring more employees to the area, master-planned communities are under development along segments of the Grand Parkway.
Bob Douglas, general manager of Harmony—a master-planned community being developed along Riley Fuzzel Road and the Grand Parkway—said the community’s location was chosen with the Grand Parkway in mind.
“Harmony is so well located because of the parkway. It’s going to ease and facilitate easy access to the Exxon campus and The Woodlands,” Douglas said. “It’s also going to ease traffic on Rayford Road, which will be great.”
Douglas said The Johnson Development Corp., the development company in charge of Harmony, and other various development companies are sure to keep taking advantage of the new road.
“There’s no question that the parkway is going to make for new projects,” he said. “It makes it easier to get around the city [of Houston]. The anticipation of completion along Rayford Road has also really sped up commercial development in the area. It’s making shopping and dining facilities closer to the homes of residents.”
Although the construction of the Grand Parkway and construction of new developments has also brought on traffic gridlocks in certain parts of the county, county officials expect the Grand Parkway and surrounding developments to bring in more revenue, increase job growth and allow greater accessibility between counties.
County Judge Craig Doyal said even though all construction projects come with their own problems and challenges, the completion of the Grand Parkway will be a game changer for north Harris County and Montgomery County.
“I think the whole region will be affected,” Doyal said. “Any time there is an alternate route available it will open our opportunities for the area to expand with growth. Even in northern Montgomery County and getting to the Beltway to get into Harris County, it’s going to create a lot of opportunity.”
Doyal said the Grand Parkway will also play into H-GAC’s Montgomery County Thoroughfare Plan, which is a document intended to assist the county in planning roadways and identifying the rights of way that must be secured. With the plan being currently updated and the Grand Parkway nearing completion, Doyal said the two occurrences are set to bring in more people to both Montgomery and Harris counties.
“The parkway plays a huge role in the thoroughfare plan,” Doyal said.
“Southern Montgomery County will be more affected, especially with people coming from The Woodlands area to Houston. The Grand Parkway is going to bring more people from Harris County into Montgomery or out from Hwy. 249—it can go both ways. It’s going to be huge economic impact.”