290 Expansion Project

Even though work won't start for another four years, the Texas Department of Transportation is already laying groundwork for widening and expanding 38 miles of U.S. Highway 290, from the West Loop 610 to the Harris County line. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Just making 290 wider is simple, but TXDOT's plans for the 290 HOV lane are more complicated. 290 Project spokesperson Melissa Deaver says the HOV lane will be moved off 290 to the old Hempstead Highway, which will also be upgraded to a toll road.

"We're in talks with Metro, the details are going to be worked out. There will be Metro operations on the Hempstead portion. They will removed from the 290 and moved over to the Hempstead."

TXDOT's current projections set the cost of the 290 expansion at $1.5 billion dollars, but Robin Holzer of the watchdog Citizens Transportation Coalition says the cost will go up, the same way the projected cost of expanding the I-10 Katy Freeway went from just over $1 billion to more than $3 billion dollars. Holzer says TXDOT's estimates are almost always low and people need to go to the public hearings and speak up.

"Tonight's meeting isn't just your standard open house. Tonight's meeting is a formal public hearing, and this is the public's last big chance to come tell TXDOT and our local governments what we care about doing right on this project. This is the big deal."

The first of three public hearings is tonight at the Sheraton Brookhollow Hotel on the West Loop at 290. The second hearing is tomorrow night at Dean Middle School in the CyFair ISD. The final hearing will be next week on July 24th at the Berry Educational Support Center on Barker Cypress Road. There's more information about the 290 project in a link on our website KUHF dot org. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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