The commission's action designates State Highway 288 as a toll road.
It also authorizes TxDOT to issue a request for proposals to design and develop the first phase of the project. That's a ten mile stretch from U.S. 59 to the Brazoria County line.
TxDOT's Director of Strategic Planning Ed Pensock says the work will cost about $585 million.
"The project that we're talking about with you today will add four new toll lanes, two in each direction, to the center median of Highway 288. It will potentially include up to eight connectors to Beltway 8."
TxDOT is also awaiting environmental clearance to build a direct connector from 288 to the Texas Medical Center.
Transportation Commissioner Jeff Moseley says the connector is vital to the project.
"About 20 percent of the workforce of the Texas Medical Center, which has about 100,000 employees, lives in Pearland and drives along this corridor. So this corridor is a significant economic engine in the state."
Ultimately TxDOT wants to build toll lanes on 288 from downtown Houston to just past the Grand Parkway in Brazoria County.
The total project is expected to cost about $2 billion.