The Hardy Toll Road, completed ahead of time and nearly $35 million under budget, opened to great fanfare June 28. County Judge Jon Lindsay was on hand for the ribbon-cutting, and the master of ceremonies was Tom Wussow, Chairman of the North Houston Association. The 21.7-mile arterial, one of NHA’s top priorities in recent years, is already easing traffic congestion. Development of the area will be enhanced because of the convenience and time-saving capabilities of the new road. Adding extensions to the Tollway is not in early discussion stages.
In addition to saving on right-of-way and construction costs, the Harris County Toll Road Authority was able to refinance bonds at lower interest rates. The bonds, floated to pay for the $332 million project, may be retired early because of growing traffic and tolls collected. Stretching from the Woodlands to I-610/North Loop, the road has two collection zones (12-lane Park Spring Toll Plaza and 15-lane Aldine Toll Plaza), as well as 11 entrance and exit points.
New proposals would increase mobility even further. A new viaduct at Hardy and Elysian would connect the tollway to U.S. 59, enabling easier access to downtown and, in particular, Brown Convention Center and The Texas Medical Center. In addition, the City of Houston’s Aviation Department is reviewing a plan for a highspeed road linking Hardy to the airport. The NHA support these proposals, as well as upgrading I-45 and U.S. 59, additional crosstown service and other road improvements.
Jim Royer, President of Turner Collie & Braden and chairman of NHA’s Aviation Committee, reports these developments and Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8):
- Construction will continue in 1989 between I-10 and U.S. 290 and, the following year, between 290 and I-45.
- The Texas Turnpike Authority is completing a feasibility study to extend Sam Houston Tollway from U.S. 59 North to I-45 South, which would improve north Houston’s accessibility to the Ship Channel and southeast Houston.
With these new roadways in place, perhaps in five years, north Houston residents would be within 25 minutes’ travel time of the entire metropolitan area, Royer says. In addition, the Texas Department of Highways has authorized a study for the proposed “Aggie Expressway.” The $253 million project would turn RM 149 into a controlled-access, six-lane highway with ramps and overpasses. The expressway eventually would link Texas A&M to Sam Houston Tollway in northwest Houston. No start date is set; officials from Harris and Montgomery counties still need to review the plan.