A Slight Traffic Delay on the Path To Building Houston’s Fifth Ring Road

A SLIGHT TRAFFIC DELAY ON THE PATH TO BUILDING HOUSTON’S FIFTH RING ROAD Path of Proposed Highway 36A, Waller County, TexasThere’s the 610 Loop, Beltway 8, Highway 6 and FM 1960, and the Grand Parkway. What will come next in the grand sequence of giant highways encircling Houston? Why that might be Highway 36A, also dubbed the Prairie Parkway, possibly because the segment of the Grand Parkway opened just a few months ago through similar natural landscape is now already too urbanized to hold onto a prairie-styled name. But the apparent eagerness of Waller County commissioners to have additional tolled segments added to link Highway 36 to State Hwy. 6 (the Waller one, not the West Houston road of the same name) to form what would likely become Houston’s fifth ring-road orbit path hit a slight bump yesterday, possibly because of opposition led by the Katy Prairie Conservancy, whose lands stand in the path. A scheduled vote on a proposed resolution in support of a highway-boosting support group called the Highway 36A Coalition and its request for TxDOT funds to study the proposed 107-mile corridor was withdrawn before it could be discussed, according to a report on Facebook posted by someone who attended the court session. “Instead, a ‘workshop’ has been scheduled for next Wednesday, May 7, immediately after the Court’s regular session,” reads the report. In public comments, according to the attendee, all 11 people who spoke about the proposed highway “seemed skeptical of the project in general.” [Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead; previously on Swamplot] Map showing path of proposed Prairie Parkway: Highway 36A Coalition

5 Comment

  • guess pipe dreams gotta start somewhere, but there’s no way this would ever be anything other than another tollway.

  • Why does this project terminate at 290? The section from I-10 to 290 seems unnecessary.

    What I also don’t understand from TxDOT and HGAC is their need to build these tollways on virgin land.

    What about upgrading the existing 36 with grade seperation and bypasses around cities. Bypass around Bellville and then follow the alignment of 159.
    If it has to all be in Waller County, then follow the alignment of 359 up to Hempstead.
    What I imagine is that like the Grand Parkway, this is less about address transportation needs and more about building a freeway to spur development.

  • @DNAguy – Because for decades now, our automobile-only culture has empowered elected officials (paging John Culberson) to “think big” and hold back nothing during road planning projects, like this one. They constantly are subjected to the intense bitching of their hundreds of thousands of constituents in the burbs about traffic congestion and how they want it alleviated – and yesterday. So the officials open up the budgets and are willing to piss off rural landowners, environmentalists, and pro-mass transit urbanites in favor of their more numerous suburbanites.

    This of course only spirals us downward in the same vicious cycle of build road, build more houses, expand road, build more houses, expand road again, build more houses, etc. Think of the $2.8 billion Katy Freeway expansion project, and just imagine if the same level of resources were poured into more sustainable modes of transportation. Oh and I was on it yesterday afternoon, headed back into town, and it was stop and go from downtown all the way to the new and improved Grand Parkway.

  • DNAguy, TXDOT pays for roads two ways. Gas taxes go for maintenance of existing roads. Bonds pay for new toll roads. Can’t use bonds to pay for existing, non-tolled roads. No money in budget for upgrading these existing roads. The 36A road is part of the hurricane evac plans to get people north without bringing them in towards Houston first.

    We are going through same issues with the 249 Extension. Those in the Stop 249 coalition want to expand FM 1774 instead of the last section of toll road. But there isn’t money in the budget to do that.
    And those people don’t realize if they did expand FM 1774, the sleepy little community they love would be torn up. FM 1774 would get straightened. Meaning the Baptist church goes, old Town Hall – gone, Imhoff store at intersection – gone. Only thing saving the fire dept is that the community water well is next door. Right of way would take the other side of the road – Baptist church. And the railroad tracks pose a huge problem so close to Hwy 105. If you expand FM 1774 to 4 lanes, you would need to go over the tracks, but there isn’t room to come down from an overpass and stop where the light is now.

  • I can’t fathom that the ‘Prairie Parkway’ is seriously part of a development push. Did anybody check with a third-grader on the area of a circle? As growth goes each mile further out, the amount of land that has to be filled-in increases exponentially. Those parts of Waller, Fort Bend, and Brazoria counties are rural and will continue to be rural in character for a very long time horizon.

    The real problem, I think, is that the Freeport-Rosenberg-Hempstead-College Station route won’t garner enough traffic to pay for a toll road. It should be painfully obvious right up on the face of it. This would be a worse financial performer than Austin’s toll bypass.