The Man Who Resurrected the Grand Parkway

THE MAN WHO RESURRECTED THE GRAND PARKWAY 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of the proposed fourth ring road around Houston were considered by many to be stalled projects — remnants, even, of an outdated dream to project sprawling, suburban-style development ever outward from the city.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

16 Comment

  • Developers, especially well-connected ones like Ned Holmes, should not be allowed to serve on TxDOT. Too many opportunities for a conflict of interest. Wanna bet he or one of his developer friends owns land in that area? It doesn’t smell right at all.

  • So, Texas had to cut $4 billion from the school budget, but TxDOT found $350 million between coach cushions? How many teachers could be saved with $350 mil? It is one thing to enact laws that save developers millions in property taxes and force a huge cut in school budgets. It is another thing to take the crumbs of tax dollars that are left and hand them over to developers in the form of this ubersprawl road project.

  • In Texas, roads are everything; there’s always money for highways.

  • I agree with roadchick & Old Skool, B.S like this really does make me mad. Do we really NEED more highways? How does one not notice $350 million dollars in the first place?! There’s something wrong with this picture, and I wonder when or who will do something about it.

  • But we do need this. How else will all those laid off teachers make it from their day job at the 290 outlet mall to their evening job at Katy Mills Mall?

  • The writer of this article about Ned Holmes seemed to believe that he had something to gain.

    What if they own a bunch of inner loop property? Go ahead, download HCAD’s tax rolls from Import the data to Access. Then search for owners addresses at 55 Waugh Dr. Holmes’ firm is in suite 1100, but be cautious because some of the parcels owned by Holmes have their tax bills sent to adjoining suites or the 12th floor.

    What I found was that most of their investments seem to be in already built-up areas.

  • That $350 mil piece of road will probably lead to over a billion dollars in additional tax base. This state is schduled to double in size over the next several decades and, unfortunately, there just aren’t enough heights bungalows to go around.

  • How ppl down here let this guy anywhere near txdot is so far beyond me.

  • Ron: Are you from “up there”?

  • Rexans do have a choice to not vote for Republicans in the elections.

  • What is a “rexan”?

  • Thank you Bamaluke!

  • Bama: Stop spewing unproven talking points from your BS pr campaign. There’s no evidence of that whatsoever, and sure there aren’t enough heights bungalows to go around, but there is literally thousands of available acreage inside or near the loop ready to be revitalized. But no… let’s just let the inner city die so we can pretend to be rich in our cheap big home in lalaland.

  • @robertrulez

    Last time I checked Houston inside the loop was thriving and not dying. Ever heard of EaDo? I can also see no fewer than four construction cranes from my office window here in the Galleria. (soon to be five with the Skanska building!)

    Are you saying that demographers haven’t predicted a doubling of the state’s population in the next 30-40 years? Are you saying that tens of thousands of acres of vacant land being developed won’t create billions in additional tax base?

    So who do you propose develop these thousands of available in-town acres and just what sort of housing should they erect? Will your cleaning lady or local barrista be able to afford this hypothetical housing?

  • @Bama

    Sure, some parts of the East side are thriving, but what about the third ward? What about north side? What about fifth ward? What about the 75% of the land in between the beltways?

    I’m not an urban planner so I couldn’t give you all the answers but research has shown that the kind of suburban growth Houston is experiencing has many long term negative environmental and economical impacts.

  • Well, considering that the $350 million Ned Homes “found” trigger ExxonMobil to pull the trigger on a $1.5 Billion building boom, and considering that if the ExxonMobil campus is valued at only $1 Billion, it would net Spring ISD $15.7 million per year, I’d suggest that Ned Holmes’ $350 million will save a lot of teachers’ jobs in the North Harris County area over the next 22 years. Additionally, the new construction will drop over $6 million annually into Harris County coffers, and since the City of Houston will likely annex the property (as it lies right next to the city limits), over $6 million will come to the City coffers to pay for trash pickup in front of Old School’s house.

    So, I’d say that Ned Holmes may have saved a lot of jobs with that money. I haven’t even mentioned the likely movement of 4,000 ExxonMobil jobs from Fairfax, Va., with their $400 to $500 million in annual salaries once the campus is complete. Once you figure that in, that $350 million is starting to sound like money well spent. Oh, do I need to bring up the number of construction jobs created by ExxonMobil and TxDOT?

    Hey guys, how many jobs have YOU created in Houston lately?