Officials to continue advocating for Grand Parkway expansion, hope to hear scheduled plans soon

Grand Parkway segment map

Bay Area officials are continuing to talk to Texas Department of Transportation officials about the planned expansion of Grand Parkway through League City, and they hope to hear more concrete plans in the next several weeks.

The Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership on Aug. 3 hosted a webinar about the project. Rep. Ed Thompson, R-Pearland; League City City Manager John Baumgartner; and Larry Buehler, director of economic development and government relations in Alvin, all spoke about the project's importance to the Bay Area and its progress.

Grand Parkway is the "third loop" around Houston. Today, several segments of the project are complete, including sections that run through Fort Bend, Harris and Montgomery counties. Demand for the Grand Parkway is high; already, officials are looking to widen segment D.

Segments C, B and A—which run from I-69 in Fort Bend County to Hwy. 288 in Brazoria County, Hwy. 288 to I-45 in Galveston County, and I-45 to Hwy. 146, respectively—are all not constructed.

Buehler said he and other officials in the area are in regular talks with TxDOT and hoping to nail down scheduled plans to progress the project, particularly segment B. Specifically, TxDOT is looking closely at a subsection of segment B that runs from Hwy. 35 on the south side of Alvin to I-45 in League City, and it seems like the project will soon get the green light because TxDOT is considering a traffic and revenue study for the segment, Buehler said.

"We think the numbers there are able to support that," he said.

Buehler said he hopes TxDOT will release more details in a few weeks.

"We hope to have some answers sooner than later," he said.

Baumgartner said League City is anxious to see scheduled, secured plans. City officials wonder if they can begin acquiring right of way or start design knowing residents are looking for traffic congestion relief as soon as possible, he said.

About $5 million of the $72 million bond League City voters approved in May 2019 is going toward the expansion of the Grand Parkway, giving League City residents a vested interest in its construction, Baumgartner said.

"There’s a tremendous demand and expectation from this community on what the roadway does," he said. "...When it comes time to build it, we're ready to go."

Additionally, officials said the Grand Parkway would provide an extra evacuation route in the event of a hurricane or other disaster, making the project important not only for mobility but safety, officials said.

BayTran President Theresa Rodriguez said a decade ago, people said no one would use the south or east side of the Grand Parkway. However, the area has since seen tremendous growth, and people recognize the need, she said.

Last summer, TxDOT considered removing segments B and C from its 10-year plan to guide transportation projects, which would have at least delayed the project. Bay Area officials and residents reached out to TxDOT, and TxDOT decided to not remove the segments from the plan after all.

“TxDOT said it was the largest outpouring for support for a project that they had ever seen," Thompson said.

That kind of advocacy must continue to make the southeast segments of the Grand Parkway a reality, he said.

Grand Parkway's segment A—which would connect to Hwy. 146, which is now being widened—is not in TxDOT's 10-year plan. BayTran board Chairman Carl Joiner said officials and residents should push for all three segments A, B and C to be done simultaneously so segment A is not left behind.
By Jake Magee

Editor, Bay Area & Pearland/Friendswood

Jake has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper. Today, he covers everything from aerospace to transportation to flood mitigation.