FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — The Grand Parkway, or State Highway 99, is a proposed 184-mile beltway which would make it the largest in the country once complete. It would connect seven counties around Greater Houston.
Sugar Land’s Mayor Joe Zimmerman, who is also on the board of the Transportation Policy Council, said it eases congestion, encourages economic development and is a needed evacuation route for residents on the coast.
“It’s not just a positive thing it’s a necessity,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a critically needed roadway in the future to provide an evacuation route. We don’t have enough routes now.”
Zimmerman was surprised and disappointed when he learned the Texas Transportation Commission and TxDOT have recommended for funding de-authorization and removal from the 2020 Unified Transportation Program.
The proposal is to remove funding from segments B, C and D of the tollway, the parts connecting Fort Bend, Brazoria and Galveston counties. B and C don’t exist yet, the funding from D would add lanes.
“I really haven’t heard a lot about why they are wanting to do it,” Zimmerman said.
KHOU 11 requested information as to why TxDOT and Texas Transportation Commission want to defund the projects. As of Thursday evening, we weren’t provided with an answer. On TxDOT’s website, there is a single PDF file stating the project, worth roughly $1.28 billion, is recommended for removal from the 2020 UTP.
“It kind of makes you wonder whether somebody is trying to slip one by the region, so to speak,” questioned Zimmerman.
The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership is upset with the proposal, too. President Bob Mitchell said more than 20 area mayors are working along with him to keep the project funded. Mitchell is encouraging Houston-area residents to reach out to TxDOT.
“We believe it’s in violation of an agreement, a contract that we have in place. And we intend to take it straight to the governor if that’s where we need to take it," Mitchell said.
The Texas Transportation Commission will vote on whether to defund the Grand Parkway projects on Aug. 29.
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