grand parkway extension

Grand Parkway Extension Opens Tomorrow

According to an article in the Bluebonnet News, two new segments of the Grand Parkway (aka State Highway 99) will open Thursday, May 19. They will connect US 59 in New Caney to I-10 in Baytown. And they will invite development of thousands of acres in Harris, Chambers and Liberty Counties.

About the Grand Parkway

The new segments will add 52.8 miles to the largest loop around Houston. That will make the Grand Parkway the largest city loop in the United States.

According to the Bluebonnet article, TxDoT will offer a two-day grace period for tolls. Tolls will begin at midnight on Saturday, May 21.

The first segment of the Grand Parkway opened in 1994 in Fort Bend County. Almost 30 years and $855 million later, Houston will have another 184 miles of tollway.

Colony Ridge, upper right by Plum Grove, is approximately as large as Kingwood, yet is unincorporated. For scale, Lake Houston Wilderness park in center is 5,000 acres.
Expansion area on east side of Colony Ridge. Photo taken on March 3, 2021.
Photo taken on January 1, 2021, looking NW where Grand Parkway turns from N/S to E/W. Colony Ridge is in upper right of frame.

Changing Demographics and Politics of Liberty County

According to the 2020 census, the largest (incorporated) cities in Liberty County are:

  • Dayton at 8,777
  • Liberty at 8,279
  • Cleveland at 7,471

The Census Bureau shows the county’s entire population in 2020 as 91,628.

In anticipation of the Grand Parkway, Colony Ridge has already attracted tens of thousands of residents, many undocumented. It now is rumored to be the largest settlement in Liberty County. In fact, it has grown so quickly, that it forced Liberty County to redistrict its precincts.

Tracking Future Development and Offsetting Drainage Changes

To avoid the flooding that often attends new developments, existing residents must monitor new plats and construction closely. Here are some tips on how to do that.

The City of Houston hosts a website called Plat Tracker Plats. It shows development applications and their current status.

Screen capture from Houston Plat Tracker Plats as of 5/17/22. Clicking on highlighted areas will give you more information about the project. Check this site often.

Note the huge developments planned or in progress to the east and north of Lake Houston near the new Grand Parkway. All of this development will have an impact on drainage. If past developments are any guide, the new developments will likely increase both the volume and speed of runoff. This area is also dotted with wetlands, especially near rivers, streams and bayous.

To offset these factors, counties usually require developers to install detention ponds. You can request plans from city or county engineers’ offices. Check to make sure they include floodwater detention basins. Then watch construction to ensure developers comply with those plans.

Remember the motto “Retain your rain.” If everyone retained enough stormwater so that post-development runoff did not exceed pre-development runoff, then people downstream would not flood.

State of Grand Parkway construction in February 2022. Looking N across FM1960. The farmlands surrounding the Grand Parkway could soon become new developments.

So, hold developers and your local elected representatives accountable. You have one chance to get this right.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/17/22

1723 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.