Construction of three new segments of the Grand Parkway extending the road from Hwy. 59 in New Caney to Hwy. 146 in Baytown could lead to additional development and population growth in the New Caney area, experts say.

Grand Parkway Infrastructure—which is a joint venture among Ferrovial Agroman, Webber LLC and Granite Construction Inc.—began construction on the 52.8-mile tollway extension in summer 2018 and plans to complete construction in 2022, GPI Public Relations Manager Janice Hayes said.

The extension of the Grand Parkway creates access to undeveloped land in New Caney that officials say could attract businesses and residents. This could lead to economic growth, as well as an increase in student enrollment at New Caney ISD, NCISD director of public relations Scott Powers said.

“We expect the Grand Parkway extension to facilitate student enrollment growth since there is undeveloped land along the planned route,” Powers said.

Construction progress

In March 2017, the Texas Department of Transportation awarded GPI with a $894 million contract to design and build segments H, from Hwy. 59 to

Hwy. 90; I-1, from Hwy. 90 to I-10; and I-2, from I-10 to Hwy. 146. Hayes said the entire project—including land acquisition—will cost close to $1.28 billion.

All of the segments are under construction and are planned to open at the same time in 2022. After the roadway opens, drivers will be able to take the Grand Parkway continuously from

Hwy. 146 in Baytown around Houston to Hwy. 59 in Fort Bend County. Hayes said TxDOT is still determining the number and cost of tolls along the roadway.

After Segments H, I-1 and I-2 are completed, there will be three proposed segments of the Grand Parkway remaining. Once complete, the Grand Parkway will form a 180-mile loop that runs through seven counties in the Houston area.

Development, economic effects

Development is already underway near Segment G of the Grand Parkway, which ends at Hwy. 59 in New Caney. Located at the intersection of the two roadways is Valley Ranch Town Center, a 240-acre mixed-use development with retail, dining and entertainment options, and a multifamily housing development coming soon.

Kevin Layne, The Signorelli Company commercial division vice president said when Segment G of the Grand Parkway opened in 2016, it triggered massive growth in home sales and retail leases in the New Caney area. According to Census data, between 2014-17, 359 homes were built in ZIP code 77357—which includes New Caney.

Layne said he expects a similar outcome when Segment H opens in 2022. The Signorelli Co. broke ground on a 456-unit multifamily development at Valley Ranch Town Center in August, with plans for additional multifamily developments in the future.

Farther south of the Grand Parkway, Kingwood and other parts of the Lake Houston area could see some economic growth when the new segments open as well, said Mark Mitchell, president of the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership.

“From a retail, tourist and commercial-industrial perspective, it’s going to create easier access to [George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Port of Houston], and that all supports our area in general,” Mitchell said.

Ncisd enrollment growth

In additional to commercial growth, residential development is also underway, said Rick Hatcher, Greater East Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce president.

This residential growth is seen in NCISD where the number of students enrolled at the district has increased from 12,979 to 15,290 between 2014-15 and 2018-19, according to district data.

Powers said NCISD is conducting a demographic study with Population and Survey Analysts that will help the district understand how the Grand Parkway extension could affect enrollment.

The district’s most recent demographic study in 2016 projected NCISD student enrollment to reach 22,905 by the 2025-26 school year.

The study also projected close to 11,000 homes will be built within the district between March 2015 and October 2025, with 989 projected to be built within Valley Ranch Town Center and 760 projected to be built in Tavola, which is located north of the Grand Parkway.

“Any time there is a major development of a highway ... it’s going to spark new businesses. ... If there are jobs to be had, many times there’s going to be residences built for people to live close by to those jobs,” Hatcher said.