Building a tolled segment on State Highway 249, also known as the Tomball Parkway has been considered for a while.
Peter Key, executive director of the Harris County Toll Road Authority, says the study is the first step in the hope of addressing congestion.
“North of Spring Cypress, where 249 essentially terminates heading north, the road branches out and what you’ve got is a large grassy median, with three lane frontage roads on either side, heading up into Tomball. And so, you have to go through a series of signalized intersections before you reach Tomball. In that grassy median is where the highway would be put down.”
Key says TxDot in 2010, determined that over 64, 000 vehicles per day travel between Beltway 8 and FM 1774. Craig Doyal, Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner, says the study could put the toll road on the fast track.
“Well it would, and obviously the feasibility study will tell us whether or not there’s enough traffic out there that would make the project toll viable, that is to say whether or not the road would pay for itself. And if there’s not enough traffic volume out there to make the project pay for itself, then it’s one that we would have to reconsider. But I believe that that will bear out.”
He thinks most of the motorists who travel on the Tomball Parkway would prefer to be able to move much more freely, and would prefer a toll lane over the traffic signals. Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle says big things are about to happen to the area.
“With the Exxon-Mobil plant coming in in the Spring area, where we’re going to be seeing anywhere from projections of 32,000 to 35,000 or more new jobs, this region is due to continue to explode. And we need to have the mobility in place, so that folks can live and breathe and move, and to enjoy the recreation. And why are they coming here? It’s because its a beautiful place with wonderful people and great economic opportunities.”
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, a former transportation consultant, says TxDot may have provided data on the increased traffic volume.
“But in this case, the Harris County Toll Road Authority and Montgomery County, can probably go together and make it happen sooner than TxDot, and the people out in the Tomball area and north of there are desperate for some kind of traffic relief. So rather than wait on the state to build a toll road that they had always said they were gonna build, this is a good opportunity for Commissioner Cagle and the folks in Montgomery County to work together and if it’s feasible, to do it.”
The feasibility study is a big first step in the process. It will seek input from motorists, and the Toll Road Authority hopes to return to Commissioner’s Court within a year with a recommendation as to how to proceed.