TOMBALL - A straight shot to the Beltway from Tomball is inching closer to reality, as the Harris County Commissioners Court approved contracts with several engineering firms.
The expansion of SH 249 into a six-lane toll way, was approved by the court earlier this year and will run from the Tomball bypass to where the current freeway ends just north of Spring-Cypress Road.
The commissioners are looking at breaking ground about a year from now.
“I’m very excited,” Harris County Pct. 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle said. “This road is a road that a lot of people have had a desire to see completed for awhile now.”
The court approved more than $7 million in expenditures for design plans, environmental studies, utilities, lighting, landscaping, signs and planning.
The overall plan is to eventually extend the highway through a sliver of Montgomery County, where SH 249 merges into FM 1774. The court is now looking at when the best time to complete the second phase, along with Montgomery County. Montgomery County is also in the beginning stages of looking into its part of the expansion.
“Everyone understands that as you increase mobility in that area that it increases the benefits for both counties as a whole,” Cagle said.
Harris County has planned all along to extend the highway north to Tomball, as there is already a huge median between the north and southbound lanes.
Current plans call for the toll road portion to be EZ tag only and will be the standard fee for Harris County toll roads.
The project was pushed along by Cagle, after being approached by members of the new 249 Partnership. The group includes members in Tomball, Magnolia and Navasota and exists to promote growth along the 249 corridor. They are currently working with TxDOT to promote expanding 249 through Navasota. That expansion would create a highway running from Houston all the way to College Station.
“This is a very good first step to make Texas A&M more connected to Houston and Harris County,” Cagle said.
Expenditures approved by the court for the expansion included nearly $2.8 million to engineers Binkley & Barfield, $1.5 million to Pierce Goodwin Alexander & Linville, $1.3 million to I.S. Engineers, $1 million to Aguirre & Fields, as well as several others listed under a million dollars.