County commissioner sees ‘clear path to removal’ of flyover road tolls at Hwy. 242 and I-45 interchange

A 2005 bond package provided $34 million to build the flyovers, which opened in 2015. The county has collected $118 million and expect $56.5 million more. The tolls generate $1.3 million annually.

A 2005 bond package provided $34 million to build the flyovers, which opened in 2015. The county has collected $118 million and expect $56.5 million more. The tolls generate $1.3 million annually.

Years after the 2015 opening of tolled flyover roads connecting I-45 and Hwy. 242, Montgomery County may be on the brink of removing fees for motorists traveling along the viaducts.

After county commissioners failed to move on the issue in May of last year, County Judge Mark Keough brought the topic of removal to an April court session. Keough said the roads are both overwhelmingly unpopular and now create congestion around the area’s medical hub as drivers clog adjacent service roads to avoid tolling.

“By removing the tolls, I believe we’ll be able to remove much of the traffic jam that is there,” Keough said at the April 9 meeting.

Commissioners at the April meeting were generally in favor of taking out the tolls, but expressed concern over whether the county or TxDOT would end up with liability for the maintenance of the flyovers after removal. Commissioners also questioned whether removal could affect either the construction of a third flyover planned at the junction, or the county’s $17.4 million in pass-through toll revenue expected from TxDOT late this year.

Commissioners voted 3-2 against removal due to the uncertainty surrounding the measure at the time, but Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack announced in an April 18 statement that he expects “a clear path to removal” of the tolls after consulting with a TxDOT engineer.

TxDOT said in late April that removal discussions were ongoing, “but no decision has been made at this point,” according to spokesperson Emily Black.

Noack’s office said in the statement that the county would not need TxDOT’s approval to get rid of the tolls, and that future projects and revenue would not be affected. Noack’s office said in April it was still awaiting an answer from TxDOT regarding maintenance responsibilities.

“Commissioner Noack has confirmed with TXDOT what I have been saying from the beginning of the conversation. TXDOT will assume maintenance of the 242 flyovers if we remove the tolls,” Keough said in an email. “What has also been re-affirmed is that future road projects will not be in jeopardy if the tolling ceases.”

The $34 million flyovers, which opened in 2015, are the product of a bond package approved by voters in 2005. The county bonds initially paid for the ramps using pass-through financing, in which local jurisdictions fund relevant state highway projects upfront and are later repaid by tolling and TxDOT. The transportation department has since sent the county nearly $118 million in pass-through program dollars, and will pay an additional $56.47 million in the coming years, according to Noack's office.

Keough said the tolls generate an estimated $1.3 million annually, which was sent to the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority rather than the county itself. Collecting the funds for a third flyover through the current tolling system could take over a decade, and Keough said he believes that money from outside the county should fund work on the state and federal roadways.

“The revenue generated from the flyovers generates a fraction of what is needed to solve our mobility problem,” he said. “However we get there, the removal of the tolls at 242 is a victory for the citizens of Montgomery County.”
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2019 as a reporter for The Woodlands area and began working as Austin's City Hall reporter in April 2021.


MOST RECENT

The Conroe ISD board of trustees discussed federal emergency funds and virtual schooling at its June board meeting. (Screenshot via YouTube)
Conroe ISD to receive total of $64.7M in federal emergency relief funds; virtual school on hold

Conroe ISD’s initial allocation from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief is $43M.

From left: Dr. Lata Joshi, chief medical officer for Lone Star Family Health Center; Karen Harwell, CEO for Lone Star Family Health Center; and Matt Clayton, media pastor for The Ark Church, pose for a photo. (Courtesy Lone Star Family Health Center)
The Ark Church in Conroe celebrates 25 years, gifts Lone Star Family Health Center $5,000

Because of the donation, the health center is able to provide 200 visits at no cost at its Grangerland location.

Americans spent 44% more shopping on websites, including Amazon, in 2020 than in 2019. (Courtesy Amazon)
Surge in online shopping strains Houston’s distribution channels

Online spending in the U.S. was up 44% from 2019 to 2020, and transportation expert Bill Eisele said this uptick has put a strain on the region’s transportation system.

Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, which regulates groundwater usage in Montgomery County, is conducting a subsidence study focused on Montgomery County. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Phase 2 of subsidence study in Montgomery County underway

The study will help guide groundwater policy decisions, LSGCD says.

Texas Central has signed a $16 billion contract with Webuild to lead the civil construction team that will build the train. (Rendering courtesy Texas Central)
Texas Central signs $16B construction contract for high-speed rail project

Texas Central could be one step closer to starting construction.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a call for Texans to conserve energy June 14. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT asks Texans to conserve energy with generation outages 2.5 times higher than normal

"This is unusual for this early in the summer season," said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT vice president of grid planning and operations, in a news release.

League City's Helen Hall Library History Club hosted an event related to Juneteenth on June 7. The holiday honors Union Gen. Gordon Granger coming to Galveston in 1865 to announce the liberation of enslaved people in Texas. (Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
Celebrate Juneteenth in Galveston with a movie screening, parade and more on June 17, 19

The Juneteenth Legacy Project, which aims to recontextualize the day and properly communicate its story and relevance, is hosting or advertising numerous events over the course of the holiday weekend.

Missouri City resident Jackie Ward became the chief nursing officer at Texas Children’s Hospital in January. (Photo by Michael Carr Photography, graphic by Chase Brooks/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Jackie Ward, Texas Children's Hospital chief nursing officer, discusses career, nursing during COVID-19

Prior to becoming chief nursing officer, Missouri City resident Jackie Ward worked as an oncology nurse and in a variety of leadership roles at Texas Children's Hospital.

The Montgomery County Animal Shelter took in over 660 animals since June 1. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County Animal Shelter at 'critical capacity point'

The shelter is waiving adoption fees, and all adoptable pets have been vaccinated, dewormed, microchipped and spayed or neutered.

Taco Bueno sells tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and more unique items, including the Muchaco, a taco made with a soft pita-like shell. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Taco Bueno coming to Katy and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

The hotel, located in Grand Central Park, will include a convention center, pool, fitness center and ballroom. (Rendering screenshot via Conroe City Council livestream)
Conroe’s new hotel and convention center will be a Hyatt

The project has been in the works for years, but the hotel brand had not yet been named.