Grand Parkway Background
Originally proposed in about 1965, the Grand Parkway was officially part of Houston's master freeway
plan in the 1960's and 1970's. In 1976, the Grand Parkway was deleted from official plans as reported in the
January 1977 Newsletter of the Regional Transportion Plan: "Deletion of certain elements from the system, mainly
the Grand Parkway, has reduced the ultimate planned system from 1000 miles to nearly 900 miles." However, the
1978 freeway planning map still shows the southeast section of the Grand Parkway between SH35 near Alvin and
TX146 as a "proposed noncommitted facility."
In the 1980's, the Grand Parkway was brought back to life. I'm not sure exactly when it was restored to the
official Houston freeway plan, but it re-appears on a freeway planning map dated January 1, 1985.
Houston's real estate community was instrumental in reviving the
Grand Parkway. The Grand Parkway Association was formed, mostly by real estate interests.
The Association was intended to
be privately financed, with the task of
performing all preliminary work required before construction could begin,
including route studies, environmental studies, obtaining right-of-way, and engineering.
The Association has been instrumental in keeping the Grand Parkway moving forward,
but they've needed a lot of financial help from TxDOT and Harris County
in recent years to pay for costly environmental studies.
As Houston's sprawl has started consuming land near the Grand Parkway, it will be
more difficult to obtain land donations. Look for TxDOT or Harris County to take the lead
in developing the Grand Parkway in the future.
The Grand Parkway will establish Houston as probably the only city with three
The first segment of the Grand Parkway between I-10 west (Katy Freeway) and US59 south
(Southwest Freeway) was opened in 1994. About 3 miles of it is a freeway, and the
rest is a 4-lane highway on a 300-foot-wide
right-of-way with intersections designed to be easily upgraded to a freeway by adding an
overpass. Over 80% of the right-of-way was donated.
The Grand Parkway is planned to be mostly without feeders, which is unusual
In the late 1990's, the Grand Parkway gained momentum. Houston's continuously expanding
population is making the Grand Parkway a transportation necessity, not just a developer's road
to riches. The northern and western segments have been determined to be a feasible
route for I-69, and I believe I-69 will
follow the Grand Parkway around Houston.
The eastern segment of the Grand Parkway is funded for construction in 2003.
Nearly all the right-of-way was donated by USX, which owns a huge amount of
land in the area that is part of a defunct steel mill.
USX also paid for much of the engineering and study costs.
USX hopes to develop its land into industrial sites.
||Baytown, TX area|
||4 lane highway, easily upgradable to freeway|
||Funding is approved. Construction is projected to begin in 2002 or 2003.|
||$35.9 million |
The Southwestern segment is one of the more environmentally sensitive segments of the
Grand Parkway. It cuts through the Brazos River bottomland hardwood forest, near
Brazos Bend State Park, and near an observatory.
On October 20, 2000, the regional Houston planning commission voted to approved the proposed
alignment of the southwest section of the Grand Parkway. See the Houston Chronicle
news article of 20-Oct-00 detailing the vote.
The Sierra Club is
voicing its usual opposition and vowing to continue their fight, possibly with litigation.
Most likely, they will not be able stop the project. There are powerful forces working to develop this region,
and one of those forces is the Fort Bend County government. Fort Bend County had been pushing for years
to build the 122 freeway from Beltway 8 to the Grand Parkway, and in August 2000 they received authority
to develop the facility as a toll road. South of state highway 6, this area is totally undeveloped. There would be
almost no one to use the road. Which of course means only one thing: the intent of the 122 facility would be to
One of the main justifications for this segment of the tollway has been the need for
a hurricane evacuation route. Of course, if it promotes urbanization (which it probably will),
that will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
There is no funding in place to build this segment. There has been talk of making it a tollway,
but I don't believe this facility could generate any significant toll revenue.
For more perspective, see a 13-August-2000 Houston Chronicle
article about this segment.
Higher resolution map
Note: TDCJ is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The Darrington Unit is a prison.