Nestled in the forest off I-45 North and Spring-Stuebner are giant construction cranes that are clearing the way for the next three segments. They’ll represent the northernmost portions of the 184-mile loop and will connect Highway 290 with Highway 59.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has been involved with the Grand Parkway since the early 80s, before Bob Lanier was Houston’s mayor.
“When Bob Lanier was on the TxDot Commission, he came up with the idea of donated right-of-way, but in order to do that he had to get legislation passed. He came to a state rep, namely me, and I carried the legislation that allowed the creation Grand Parkway Association.”
With ceremonial shovel in hand, Judge Emmett joined state and local leaders in turning dirt for the 38-mile segment. He says it represents a major traveling route for residents in the area.
“Once this segments’ complete, this will be almost half of it. And in the key piece comes on the East side that’ll go through Montgomery, Harris, Liberty counties, and then back down to LaPorte, because so much of it will impact LaPorte in a development down there. The west side will be pretty much complete once this segment’s done, and so that will be a nice loop around town.”
The segment is located in Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle’s precinct.
“When I came into office in October of 2011, I was told it’d be 15 years before the Grand Parkway was built, and that never would 249 be built. 290 might happen in my lifetime, but it would be towards the tail end of it. And Commissioner Ned Holmes who, we spent our evening hammering out part of the details that Ed Emmett had been the architect of, of how can we go ahead and do the whole region with multiple forms of financing and approaches.”
“It’s really a public-public partnership, not only TxDot, but Harris County and Montgomery County as the governmental entities involved. And the private side is the contractors that bid on it, and that’s Zachary-Odebrecht building it. And then we sold the bonds at TxDot to fund this project.”
The project is being financed with $2.6 billion dollars in municipal bonds and toll plazas being placed throughout the Grand Parkway.