Multiple ramp modifications are also planned for the project. At the same time, the Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority is planning a direct connector to take drivers from FM 1093 onto the Grand Parkway northbound.
A schematic of the project design, courtesy of TxDOT, is available here.
“The project would require minor amounts of additional right-of-way [ROW] for right turn lanes and corner clips at major intersections,” according to TxDOT meeting documents. “No displacements associated with the proposed project are anticipated.”
TxDOT spokesperson Deidrea George said the widening is one of several ongoing projects along the Grand Parkway, and that increasing traffic in the Katy area was motivation for the plan.
According to TxDOT, the project would cost an estimated $118 million and the agency is not looking at partnering with other government entities for funding. George said the funding is not secured at this time but that TxDOT did not anticipate any challenges in securing it.
Construction would last approximately two years, although the agency does not expect to begin work until 2022. Sam Ainabe, a schematic design project manager for TxDOT, said that all four main lanes would remain open during construction with some periodic closures.
“You don’t want traffic to stack up at the point of the intersection,” Ainabe said.
He also said TxDOT uses “road modeling” to widen streets systematically, and the Grand Parkway could be expanded further in the future if studies support it.
Now through Nov. 8, TxDOT will accept public comments on the project either emailed to Hou-piowebmail.txdot.gov or mailed to TxDOT Houston District, Director of Project Development, Texas Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 1386, Houston, Texas 77251-1386.
TxDOT held an open house for the public to view and give feedback on the project Oct. 24 at Cinco Ranch High School in Katy. Andy Meyers, commissioner for Fort Bend County Precinct 3, said noise control from increased traffic on the Grand Parkway is a sticking point for the project.
“That’s the biggest complaint that I’ve gotten from people,” he said.
He expressed interest in looking at longitudinal cuts in the roadway to reduce noise, which have already been implemented on parts of I-10 and Loop 610 in Houston.
If environmental and traffic noise studies determine that sound walls are needed as part of the widening project, TxDOT will add them to the design, according to Jasmine Gardner. Her firm, Blanton & Associates, is conducting the studies and expects to present them by late 2018.
The project is proposed for Grand Parkway Segment D, which is managed by TxDOT and FBCTRA. Fort Bend County engineer Richard Stolleis said the toll road authority’s direct connector is not part of the widening project, while Meyers said the toll road authority can choose to build the structure when economically feasible.
Meyers is also pushing for new Grand Parkway frontage roads between Cinco Ranch Boulevard and Westheimer Parkway, and between FM 1093 to just south of Fry Road as part of the county’s 2017 mobility bond proposal.
“The other bottleneck we have is no access roads,” he said.
If the bond passes, Meyers said his project would take about nine months to design and a little over a year to build, assuming there are no major delays with acquiring the ROW or performing environmental studies. He said it was possible his project could “piggy back” on TxDOT’s widening efforts.