Last updated 12-November-2000
Also see: More 249 information, including plans for new direct connectors
The 249 freeway, unofficially called the Tomball Parkway, is Houston’s newest freeway. Sections have been opening on a yearly basis since about 1996, and the freeway now extends from Beltway 8 to just south of Tomball.
Plans call for construction of feeder roads to Tomball, with one $12.9 million contract awarded in August 2000 and a $15 million contract scheduled for June 2001.
North of Tomball, 249 is planned as a freeway up to Pinehurst. From Pinehurst to the Grimes/Waller county line, a study is presently underway to determine the needed improvements. The recommendation will almost surely be for a freeway. From this point northward, a major study has already been completed and the recommendation is for a full freeway. According to the TxDOT web site the minimum corridor width will be 460 feet (140m). This is an unusually wide corridor for Houston, where most right-of-way widths are in the 300-350 range (91-107m). Of course, nothing is final right now. Don’t look for the freeway north of Tomball until 2010 or later.
From the TxDOT web site:
“From Houston to Bryan/College Station, the corridor will acquire right of way for a four-lane freeway with frontage roads. The minimum amount of ROW required to accommodate such a roadway is approximately 460 ft. Frontage roads will be constructed in areas where traffic volume and access dictate their need.”
The New Freeway
The conversion of 249 into a freeway north of BW8 was masterminded by Bob Lanier. Bob Lanier is a wealthy Houston developer who was chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission in the 1980s. During this time, he set the wheels in Houston for many large freeway construction projects, including 249 and the massive 59 north expansion. Bob Lanier went on to become Mayor of Houston in 1991, and his first action when taking office was to kill the planned monorail system. He was forced out of office by term limits in 1997.
The presence of the Compaq Computer campus on this corridor (approximately halfway between BW8 and Tomball) also was a big factor in the conversion to a freeway.
Significant right-of-way acquisition was necessary to make way for the freeway. The corridor width was about 150 feet (45.72 meters) before the freeway, and now it is typically about 350 feet (106.68 m) for the corridor. It cuts a wide path through the piney forest. Although most of the land along the corridor was vacant, numerous businesses (surely more than 100) were displaced, with a lot of displacements at the state highway 6 interchange.
There are a lot of nice country roads, forests, and pastures in this region. You better see them while you can because the area is rapidly urbanizing.
This map shows the options that were considered for the 249 freeway extension to Navasota. (Map from the TxDOT web site.)
This map shows the selected corridor for the 249 freeway extension to Navasota. Don’t look for this freeway until after 2010. (Map from the TxDOT web site.)
Photos taken 30-September-2000
249 just north of FM 1960. Notice the over/under interwoven entrance/exit ramps. This section of the freeway was completed around 1997. The view looks south.
249 in the vicinity of Louetta road, about 2 miles (3.22 km) north of FM1960. This section was completed around 1998. The view looks north.
249 in the vicinity of the Compaq computer campus. The freeway has six feeder and 6 main lanes, although there is sufficient pavement for 8 main lanes (the inner two lanes are striped off.) This section was completed around 1999. The view looks south.