The Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Authority will wrap up construction this fall on a portion of the Grand Parkway in Richmond.
The Grand Parkway—Houston’s third outer loop— will wrap around the Greater Houston area for more than 180 miles of scenic highway upon completion, according to the Grand Parkway Association.
Construction on a three-quarter-mile feeder road—Segment C-1 south of Hwy. 59—began in March, said Mike Stone, the chief operating officer of Mike Stone Associates, which is contracted to do work on the project.
“If you have to have a Phase 1, this is Phase 1,” Stone said.
The road also serves as an improvement to Crabb River Road, which Fort Bend County wanted to expand. Stone said the FBGPTA took on the project for the county. In addition to creating three southbound lanes, the authority will also convert the existing Crabb River Road to be northbound lanes.
Stone said it will cost approximately $5.6 million to construct Segment C-1. The project is funded solely through toll revenue collected by FBGPTA, and is expected to be completed by November or December, or possibly earlier, weather permitting, he said.
Segment C-1 is the only piece of Grand Parkway Segment C currently under construction to date, because the Texas Department of Transportation has not funded Segment C yet.
“That’s really all that’s in there,” said David Gornet, the executive director of the Grand Parkway Association, a TxDOT entity created to study and plan the tollway. “The other portions of the Grand Parkway [Segment C] that would go around [Hwy.] 288, there’s just no current plans to do anything with those.”
Gornet said all of Segment C would cost about $1.5 billion. Having worked on the Grand Parkway project since the 1980s as a consultant and then as member of the Grand Parkway Association, he estimated the complete construction of Segment C could be done by 2025.
“That might even be optimistic,” Gornet said. “It takes a lot of money to get stuff built, and right now that money’s not all there.”
Gornet said the funding source could be an increased gas tax, but Segment C has not been a priority. To reduce construction expenses, Gornet said TxDOT is considering building only two lanes in between Hwys. 59 and 288, with four lanes near the highways’ entry points where traffic would be heavier.
“That way … we can get something done that’s less expensive—maybe at that point affordable—until there’s more growth down on the south side,” Gornet said. “The north side has four lanes up there, but that’s more of a dynamic growth area than down along the Brazos River corridor.”
Once funded, Segment C should take about three years to construct, Gornet said. Its primary users will be those who live along the segment, he said.
“They’re looking at a daily volume of something less than 20,000 cars a day,” Gornet said. “[For perspective], Grand Parkway up [north in]Cinco Ranch right now — it’s running almost 100,000 cars a day.”