It’s been almost twenty-three years since the first major segment of the Tollway opened back in 1982. The last segment runs from the Eastex Freeway to just south of Highway 90 and is nearing completion. People will be able to take a traffic-light-free drive along the 88-mile ring road when it opens on Saturday. Alan Clark is the director of transportation and planning at the Houston-Galveston Area Council. He says the final $400 million dollar section will serve the rapidly growing communities in northeast Harris County.
“It should shorten their travel time significantly and by that I mean maybe twenty minutes, thirty minutes. It could be even longer.”
Clark says it will coordinate well with a stretch of US 90 that runs from the Beltway to Loop 610 in northeast Harris County.
“I think both projects have been long anticipated. They’re very needed in that northeastern part of Harris County, not only for the growing population, but for the truck traffic that’s serving industry in the port areas of our region.”
He says the new piece of the Tollway will also give people another escape route in the event of a hurricane.
“When we have a major hurricane event persons coming up from Galveston County, for example, or from the areas of Harris County that are near the bay or Ship Channel may need to evacuate. This will provide them with another important way to go north to either 59, 45, or other routes.”
The design of the Sam Houston Tollway was cooked up by Houston planning officials in 1952. Total cost? Almost one and a half billion dollars.