Last updated October 29, 2001
See also: Westpark Tollway views before construction | Construction images | Diagram of the Beltway 8 Interchange
||IH-610 to Grand Parkway, following the alignment of Westpark Road and Alief-Clodine Road
||4 lane tollway with short super-2 and super-3 sections
||About $100 million in contracts awarded as of October 2001; major construction should be underway by the beginning of 2002
||$250 million (approx.)
||A minimal but very interesting facility. It will definitely be a great benefit to west Houston.
The Westpark Tollway was never part of Houston's freeway master plan, and did not even appear on the 25 year metropolitan planning document until 2001. A 1968 Houston planning map showed a westside freeway extending from Beltway 8 near Westheimer to the Grand Parkway, but that route was not along Westpark and was never adopted, and as far as I know, never even considered by TxDOT. Right-of-way was not set aside for any kind of significant vehicular transportation corridor along Westpark. The existing 4 and 6 lane roadway had a standard 100 ft corridor width. But there was always hope among west Houston business interests, because the railroad right-of-way and high voltage right-of-way along Westpark road provided the possibility of more.
The first big break came in 1991. Newly elected Mayor Bob Lanier had promised to kill rail planning in Houston. And to ensure that rail could not be easily built in the future, he set out to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars in the Metropolitan Transit Authority's (Metro) cash hoard. In December 1992, Metro purchased the railroad right-of-way from Southern Pacific Railroad. The final price turned out to be $74 million after litigation was settled in 1997.( Details on this complicated deal.) From the beginning of the MTA's purchase, the route was intended to be a one-lane reversible HOV that would connect to Metro's Park and Ride Lots along the corridor. In about 1997, Metro even advertised for bids for that project. But the West Houston association pushed hard for a tollway, and their pleas were heard by Harris County Judge Bob Eckels and the Harris County Toll Road authority. A long period of negotiation began. Complications arose in 1997 when Mayor Lee Brown was elected, Houston's first black Mayor. He is pro-rail, and he immediately dismissed all the anti-rail members of the Houston delegation of the Metro Board and stacked the Board with pro-rail members.
The final plan for the Tollway reflects the board's pro-rail stance. Metro sold the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) the northern 50 feet of the railroad corridor for $14 million. The southern 50 feet of the corridor is preserved for a future rail line. (There is no planning for that rail line at this time.) The 50 feet for the rail corridor is being kept entirely clear of ramps and roadway, leading to some interesting flyover ramps to the tollway. HCTRA will squeeze the 4 lane tollway into the 50 feet, getting the extra right-of-way it needs by taking it from the adjacent Westpark Road and, further west, from the high-voltage right-of-way.
The Westpark Tollway will extend westward about 1 mile west of the Grand Parkway. The far western segment will follow the alignment of FM 1093; routes just to the south of FM 1093 were considered, but the FM 1093 alignment was selected in September 2001.
This roadway is a very small, and cannot be expanded due to the design of the facility. By Houston standards, some of the roadway design is absolutely crazy and even includes 2 cloverleags (gag!!). The BW8 interchange is perhaps the ultimate in non-conventional interchange design, with one connector in a trench 2 levels deep!
But as a native of Sharpstown in Southwest Houston, about 1.5 miles from the Tollway route, I'm not complaining. I'll take whatever we can get for the corridor.
TxDOT allocated funds to contruct interchanges at the Grand Parkway (SH99) and FM 1464.
Westward Extension of the Tollway
At its October 24, 2000, meeting, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved the westward extension, 3 miles west to 1464 and 1093 (Westheimer). This segment will be completed one year after the main length, which will probably be in 2004. At the SH6 intersection, the tollway will be below grade.
On November 7, 2000, Fort Bend County voters approved $140 million in toll road bonds for the extension of the Westpark Tollway to the Grand Parkway and construction of the Fort Bend Parkway Tollway, which will ultimately extend to the Grand Parkway. Since this section of the Westpark tollway is in Fort Bend County, it will be handled by Fort Bend County rather than the Harris County Toll Road Authority.
Schematics were permanently removed on 23-October-2001