Despite some brief rainstorms and cloudy skies, the Tomball Tollway grand opening event—Stroll the Toll—was celebrated without a hitch on April 12.
Bruce Hillegeist, Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce president, welcomed a number of local officials to speak to more than 500 residents in attendance about the groundwork behind the Tomball Tollway. Community members were invited to tour the road from 2-4 p.m. following a news conference and ribbon cutting. The Tomball Tollway opened to drivers at 6 p.m.
"I just want to thank the visionaries for this great highway today," Hillegeist said. "[It took about] 18 to 20 months [to build]. I've never seen a road being built so fast in my life. There was a lot of safety involved—just think of the brain trust that went into something like this."
Hillegeist thanked state Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, for his role in serving as chairman of the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce mobility committee for several years.
"It's a real honor today," Fletcher said. "This has been a long time coming. I can remember everyone at the chamber worked so hard to make this happen. I promise you as your state rep[resentative] I met with [home owner associations], [attended] town hall meetings, all the different groups and they wanted a way to move faster when they needed to."
The toll is $1.45 to travel the entire 6-mile length of the toll road from just north of Spring Cypress Road to north of FM 2920, and violators will receive tickets, said Gary Trietsch, executive director of the Harris County Toll Road Authority.
"We have a wonderful contractor, and they've really worked to get this [road] done in a timely manner," Trietsch said.
Jeff Moseley, Texas Department of Transportation commissioner, said he is proud of the regional cooperation between city and county leaders to construct the roadway.
"TxDOT came in and bought the right of way for the road and put in the frontage roads, but HCTRA built these mainlanes—these beautiful lanes we're standing on today," Moseley said. "I imagine Congressman Tom Ball is looking down, and he probably has a big smile on his face. I know he would be so happy to know the spirit of partnership that he symbolizes is alive and well today here in Tomball."
Three years ago Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Jack Cagle, Harris County Precinct 4 commissioner, were instrumental in mobilizing support for the project along with Tomball and Magnolia leaders.
"Between the designers and the builders, we've got a project that gets you to and from Tomball [and] to other places, such as beautiful Magnolia," Cagle said. "With the City Council there and Montgomery County, [the road] gets us throughout the state of Texas, which is why our partnership with TxDOT is so important."
Cagle, Doyal and the other officials at the event thanked everyone who lent a hand in helping the Tomball Tollway become a reality.
"Three years ago we were told this road would never happen—it was just impossible and couldn't be done," Doyal said. "It's pretty nice to be walking on an impossible road just three years later."