The remainder of Segment D in the Grand Parkway, Houston's third loop, is taking shape, and officials expect the final two sections of the segment stretching from the Westpark Tollway to Hwy. 59 to open by December.
In contrast to other Grand Parkway segments in other regions of Houston, Segment D is maintained and controlled by Fort Bend County via the Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Road Authority instead of the Texas Department of Transportation. FBGPTRA officials are working to finalize a tolling system and identify exact toll booth locations as well as rates.
"The intent of the system is always having the free option of the frontage roads available," said Bill Jameson, with the FBGPTRA. "You will continue to have the free roads like you have now...And all new toll road lanes will [only allow] electronic tolls."
The toll-free section from I-10 to the Westpark Tollway opened in 1994, when TxDOT completed construction of the $100 million project, funded by tax revenues. The remaining sections have a price tag of $147 million using money from toll revenue bonds, which will be paid back using toll revenues.
Mike Stone, a spokesperson for the FBGPTRA said the organization plans to finalize a toll-booth vendor and exact locations by May, and it will determine the rates sometime this fall. Drivers can expect seven tolled overpasses across the new sections.
"The rule in Fort Bend County is if you drive on an existing road today that is free, it will not be tolled," Stone said. "Taxpayers paid for the [current section]...So no toll booths will be added on the existing stretch."
There will be, however, a booth at I-10 and Segment E, which runs north for 15 miles through Cypress and is scheduled to open by the end of the year.
When it is opened to the public, the entire length of Segment D will contribute 18.2 miles to the Grand Parkway's diameter, which runs more than 180 miles of toll road around the greater Houston area.
"When segments D—Hwy. 59 to I-10—and E—I-10 to Hwy. 290—are completed, the Katy area will have improved access to the Sugar Land and Cypress areas," said David Gornet, president of the Grand Parkway Association. "Particularly the north access to the Bridgeland area will offer Katy businesses the opportunity to serve them directly."