Roughly 40 years ago, TxDOT considered raising Hwy. 35 and making it a toll road. The elevated road would have run from Loop 610 to Hwy. 6 in Alvin, giving Alvin residents a direct route into downtown. As new toll road projects are on pause, TxDOT is considering options to improve the road’s connectivity with the cities of Houston, Alvin and Pearland.
“We don’t know if it’s elevated, on the ground, etcetera. That’s the old study. We are starting with a clean slate,” said James Koch, director of transportation planning and development for TxDOT.
The original project proposal included elevating the road and aligning it near the railroad tracks in Pearland. While a new alignment has not been chosen for the project, the city of Pearland opposes elevating this part of the road, Deputy City Manager Trent Epperson said.
“One of those routes is likely to be the old one, right along the tracks through Old Town [Pearland]. We want to get ahead of that and say we’re not comfortable with it,” he said.
Instead, Pearland officials said they hope TxDOT works on other priorities for the road, including widening it from Broadway Street in Pearland to Alvin and adding medians. This would address safety concerns and congestion identified in the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Northern Brazoria County/Pearland Subregional Planning Initiative, Epperson said.
“That is a great priority project that would provide many benefits they are looking at,” he said.
The project is in the very early discussion stages; TxDOT officials are hoping H-GAC will put this on its 2050 plan, its tentative, long-range plan for regional projects. If that happens, it would allow TxDOT to start planning more thoroughly, Koch said.
H-GAC will be choosing the 2050 projects by the end of July.
“Part of this analysis is running those problems; it’s about how traffic would flow,” Koch said. “When I got this job and heard about Pearland’s concerns—alignment straight through town, no access [to Hwy. 35]—it wasn’t positive for Pearland. That’s another reason I wanted to have this conversation; if it’s not elevated, what would the road look like?”
The item was discussed at the April 26 Pearland City Council meeting. Council voiced its opposition to the raised roadway.
“It’s just not appropriate here,” Council Member Trent Perez said during the meeting.
It is too early in the process for TxDOT to know how much the project would cost, Koch said. If it is approved for H-GAC’s plan, then H-GAC would fund a portion of the project, Koch said.
TxDOT has already received $341 million for elevating the road from Spur 5 to Loop 610 and is gathering data for possible changes to the rest of the road.
“There should be no fear that it would be funded next year and have an elevated section through town,” Koch said. “We are truly in the planning stages right now.”