Last month, Harris County Commissioners approved an agreement to build and maintain a segment of the Grand Parkway connecting the Katy Freeway and U.S. 290. Commuters would have to pay a toll to use Segment-E of the Grand Parkway. Commissioners have scheduled two critical votes for Segment-E: nearly 10-million dollars of engineering design contracts and a traffic and revenue study. Robin Holzer chairs the Citizens Transportation Coalition. She says they want Commissioners to approve the viability study, but not the the engineering contracts:
"The county owes it to everyone of the one million people who pay to use tolls on the West Park, and Sam Houston and Hardy toll roads, to slow down and study the Grand Parkway's toll feasibility before they commit us to start paying for it."
Last week, the Texas Transportation Commission allocated over 780 million dollars in federal stimulus funds on toll and toll-related projects. Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack, whose precinct includes Segment-E,Î¾ says the segment satisfies the federal stimulus mandate as a "shovel ready" project. But he wants questions answered.
"I don't want to see the taxpayers of Harris County spend a bunch of money on engineering until we know that we'll be allowed to build that project, and not just have a bunch of engineering that's worthless."
The 180-mile Grand Parkway will cost up to a half a billion dollars. Opponents complain that money could be better spent improving existing roads or on commuter rail.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.