The Hwy. 36A project is one checkpoint away from being added to the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s 2045 Regional Transportation Plan, H-GAC Director of Transportation Craig Raborn said Nov. 18 during a Highway 36A Coalition breakfast event.

The Hwy. 36A project is aiming to connect Port Freeport in Brazoria County through Fort Bend County and into Waller County, close to Hwy. 6 and north of Hempstead. It will be broken down into two segments, Hwy. 36A South and Hwy. 36A North, with I-10 serving as the dividing line for the Texas Department of Transportation, Highway 36A Coalition spokesperson Jim Fredricks said.

The 2045 Regional Transportation Plan allows H-GAC to highlight projects and investments that will require financing as well as guide decision-making on transportation in the area over the next 25 years, according to H-GAC’s website. Due to federal regulations, projects and programs can be included in the plan only if funding can be identified for them.

“Both of those projects were included and recommended, or approved by our transportation policy council in June to be added to our regional transportation plan,” Raborn said. “They’re not technically in the plan yet due to some air quality requirements that we have to go through, but we think that will be wrapped up probably [by the] end of spring [or] early summer, and they will formally be in the plan.”

The H-GAC needs to run models on the effects the Hwy. 36A project will have on the air quality and provide data, as well as take a look at traffic congestion effects before the requirements are cleared and the two parts of the project are included in the regional transportation plan, Raborn said.

TxDOT is also in the midst of a feasibility and environmental study for the project. Additionally, there is a condition relating to the Hwy. 36A North portion of the project, stating that as TxDOT develops the project, it should avoid adverse effects to the Katy Prairie Conservancy and lands occupied by them, Raborn said.

Hwy. 36A South is going into the plan as a project that would have funding begin in 2027, and the Hwy. 36A North segment would go into the plan by 2040, but that likely will change as the projects progress, Raborn said. Both projects are planned to go into the plan with a $2.4 billion cost, but that number is flexible as well, he added.

“When you put projects in a regional transportation plan, a 20-year plan that far out, you’re not saying it is actually going to happen until 2040, you’re saying that we’re putting it in 2040, and as we continue developing the project, and we know what the real timeline is going to be, that’s when we’ll eventually get it to the year to when it is actually going to happen,” Raborn said.