Hwy. 290 expansion project

Northwest Houston motorists will see continued construction to widen Hwy. 290 throughout the year. Upon completion slated for 2017 it is expected to provide congestion relief along the corridor, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

The $1.8 billion expansion project was initially estimated to cost $4.7 billion and construction was scheduled to extend through 2034. But the recent partnership between the Harris County Toll Road Authority and TxDOT forged last April provided the funding to work on each section of the project nearly 20 years ahead of schedule.

"We expect all the projects between Loop 610 and Hwy. 6 to be under construction by early 2014 and have all the projects out to the Grand Parkway done by 2017," said Mike Zientek, senior public involvement representative with the US 290 Program. "For the longest time, the biggest hurdle we've had to get over is funding."

HCTRA will provide $400 million toward construction costs to assist with the implementation of managed lanes down the center of the highway. Other funding sources include $168 million from Rider 42, $332 million from proposition 12 and $105 million from proposition 14, $315 million from the state and $480 million in federal money.

The proposed Hempstead Tollway has been put on hold by HCTRA to allow construction of the interim managed lanes outlined by the highway redesign, but is still a part of the overall plan. The three reversible managed lanes will be implemented between Loop 610 and Hwy. 6 before going down to two lanes west of Hwy. 6.

The Hempstead Tollway is expected to be completed around 2035, at which time the Hwy. 290 managed lanes will become general purpose lanes, according to the memorandum of understanding signed between HCTRA and TxDOT.

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