Plans call for reversable managed toll lanes on U.S. 290 from the 610 Loop to State Highway 99. The lanes are similar to the ones on the Katy Freeway. They would carry vehicles with more than one person. They would also carry single drivers willing to pay a toll.
TxDOT's Karen Othon says the 290 project is designed to alleviate congestion in the short term. There's been a lot of growth in the area, and segments of the freeway are on the list of the most congested roadways in Texas.
Computer animation shows how HWY 290 is expected to look after the completion of $1.8 billion project. Video shot by Gail Delaughter on September 26, 2012.
Othon says long-term plans call for a toll road along the nearby Hempstead corridor.
"That is not going to happen very soon due to funding challenges. It's just very costly to build that project."
Othon says the Hempstead project may not happen for another two decades. So for now, TxDOT is moving ahead with plans to build interim managed lanes. The cost is $1.8 billion.
"The Harris County Toll Road Authority is contributing $400 million toward that project, and it is with this partnership that we are able to get a step closer to bringing relief to motorists who use 290 each and every day."
So what's the timetable for the project? Othon says if the Federal Highway Administration gives its okay, TxDOT hopes to start taking construction bids in March.
"We hope to have the section from I-610 to to State Highway 6 under construction by fall of 2013."
TxDot is holding two public meetings on the project.