I-10, Grand Parkway ramps eagerly anticipated
Construction on direct traffic connectors between the Grand Parkway and Interstate 10 is on schedule, and the ramps should be open to drivers by the end of the year, Texas Department of Transportation officials say.
About a year into the $41.2 million project, construction is about two-thirds complete, according to Jim Hunt, who is TxDOT's engineer for Fort Bend and Waller counties. Work on the 16-month federally funded project began last July.
When the project is completed, drivers heading north on the Grand Parkway will have a direct ramp to eastbound I-10. Drivers heading west on I-10 will have a direct ramp to southbound Grand Parkway.
Completion couldn't come fast enough for the drivers who sit in long lines at stop signs and traffic lights each morning and evening on their way to and from subdivisions like Cinco Ranch and Seven Lakes and to jobs in the Energy Corridor and downtown.
"The amount of traffic has increased at (the Grand Parkway-I-10) intersection much faster than what people thought it would," said Roger Hord, president of the West Houston Association, which keeps track of westside developments.
"I think the feeling early on was they could do without the direct connects until such time as the movement to the east on I-10 was at sufficient levels," he said. "Well, that time is now."
Motorists in the area will notice that most of the columns for the first two direct connector ramps are ready. Workers are setting the beams that will support the deck for people to drive on, Hunt said. The project is being built with federal economic stimulus money.
Realtor Julie Fuelling has an office in the Villagio Town Center, 22756 Westheimer Parkway, and lives off Barker-Cypress Road. She has been avoiding her usual morning and evening route since construction began.
"I don't even go that way anymore because it's such a nightmare," she said. "I go around it rather than deal with it."
But the dislocation will be worth it once construction is complete, she said. "I'm sure these connectors will be great!"
Separate construction on main-lane decks for the Grand Parkway over I-10 is scheduled to begin later this summer, as part of the "Segment E" northern extension of the parkway from I-10 to U.S. 290, Hunt said. Part of that project will include two other direct connectors between I-10 and the Grand Parkway.
Those ramps will be for drivers headed westbound on I-10 who want to go northbound on the new section of the Grand Parkway, and for drivers headed southbound on the new Grand Parkway section who want to go eastbound on I-10.
Hunt said bids are scheduled to be awarded in August for Segment E. If that schedule holds, construction would start in October.
"When you're coming home in the evening that left-hand turn really backs up," Hunt said of the current project. "When we get those first two ramps open for business later this year, it will be a big asset to mobility in the area."
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