It’s hot and muddy in north Harris County, but crews are hard at work on a big project designed to bring the Hardy Toll Road into the future.
It’s the first major overhaul since the Hardy opened 27 years ago, and officials say they have to make upgrades to accommodate a growing population. Harris County Toll Road Authority Assistant Director Quinton Alberto says the project includes connector ramps at the Grand Parkway. They’re also adding a third lane in each direction between the Parkway and FM 1960.
“It was always planned or envisioned to have that third lane,” says Alberto. “A lot of our bridges and abutments are wide enough, though we do have to add some infrastructure to support the widening.”
But probably the biggest change is that the Hardy is being converted to all-electronic tolling. Alberto says cash tolling holds up traffic, because drivers have to slow down and make decisions.
“When you take that decision out from that plaza you add a little bit more fluidity through the plaza,” Alberto explains. “You get a little bit better throughput through that corridor.”
All that construction on the Hardy means drivers have to watch out for possible detours. Program Manager Matt Kainer says there will be some total closures, but mainly on nights and weekends.
“The nature of the work necessitates that we close the road completely, just because we have work happening across all four lanes of the existing roadway,” says Kainer. “We’re making every effort possible to try to consolidate the number of those closures, as well as shorten the duration as much as possible.”
The cost of the project is $170 million. HCTRA expects to finish the work by June of next year.