As recently as the beginning of this year, 2 northwestern segments of the proposed fourth ring road around Houston were considered by many to be stalled projects — remnants, even, of an outdated dream to project sprawling, suburban-style development ever outward from the city. But by September, construction on the 15.2-mile Katy Prairie paving program known as Segment E of the Grand Parkway had magically begun; further north, Grand Parkway’s Segment F — the portion that would connect ExxonMobil’s proposed campus in Spring to western suburbs — now appears inevitable. How’d that happen? Reporter Angie Schmitt looks at the role of developer and TxDOT commissioner Ned Holmes in the startling turnaround, including the former banking executive’s remarkable ability to dig up a previously unnoticed $350 million deep in the books of the otherwise cash-starved state agency he oversees — in order to make the Grand Parkway happen. [StreetsBlog; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Rte. 99 ramp construction: Covering Katy
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