Commissioners Court on Tuesday authorized the Harris County Toll Road Authority to negotiate with the Texas Department of Transportation over the development of three Grand Parkway segments inside Harris County with a total length of more than 40 miles. Segment E, which would run roughly from Interstate 10 to U.S. 290, is next up for construction.
State legislation gives Harris County two years after it receives federal permits to start building. It has not yet received those permits, but the county won a lawsuit that challenged the project on environmental grounds.
“If we come to an agreement, then Harris County will build it, then we’ll start as soon as possible, perhaps next year,” County Judge Ed Emmett. “If for some reason we can’t come to an agreement, then it’s TxDOT’s highway again, but I think an agreement can be reached.”
Yes, I know, it’s not a straight up trade of traffic signals for speculative toll roads in the middle of nowhere, but it’s instructive nonetheless. The problem many people have with the Grand Parkway is that it’s being built to address the perceived future traffic needs of people who will eventually move to this currently empty part of the county. The reason these people are projected to live there some day is, of course, because of this big honking road that’s going to be built first. It’s all very neat. Point being, Commissioners Court has for a long time now been committed to addressing the future needs of these future residents, even as the present day needs of people who are already here are being sacrificed. It’s a matter of priorities, and as far as the Grand Parkway is concerned those priorities have always been warped.