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WCC Chamber hears update on Parkway plans

The West Chambers County Chamber of Commerce heard from David Gornet, Executive Director of the Grand Parkway association, Tuesday afternoon at Eagle Pointe during their monthly meeting. And, according to his report, things are moving at a steady clip.
Gornet is responsible for promoting the benefit of the highway to area citizens, and working with local governments to secure right of way and funding for the project. He also makes regular stops at civic functions to inform local residents about the progress on the 184-mile roadway, which will encircle the entire Houston area at completion.
Gornet said that studies are complete on 85 miles of the project, specifically sections D, E, F-1, F-2, and G, which pass through the Katy, Fairfield, Cypress and Spring areas, as well as I-2, which travels through the east side of the Beach City area. 28 miles of the project are open currently, and Harris, Montgomery, and Chambers Counties have given the project over to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Gornet said.
92 miles of the project, including segments B and C, which traverse the southern portion of the Missouri City and Sugarland areas, and segments H and I-1, which will pass through the Dayton and Mont Belvieu areas.
Gornet said that in addition to bond hearings, there are numerous ways of paying for the toll road, but none come without risk.
“If we bring a private partner into an agreement, they bring money to the table to help build the roadway, and we would pay them the tolls for a set number of years,” Gornet said. “In that situation, if tolls are low, then tax money makes up the difference.
“And in the case of a concession agreement, a company could pay for the entirety of the toll road and keep all the tolls generated,” Gornet added, “and if the roadway sees a lot of traffic, then the county loses out on money. But if traffic is low and tolls don’t continuously come in, then the county makes out well and the company loses money.”
Gornt pointed to the Hardy Toll Road and Beltway 8 as an example of what can happen in these circumstances. “When those projects started, the consensus was that the Hardy Toll Road would generate a significant amount of revenue, and that much less traffic would frequent the Beltway,” Gornet said. “Now we know it’s a different situation on those roads, and that the Beltway has become a very popular way of travel.”
A public meeting was held Tuesday night at the Barbers HIll High School, with another scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at the New Caney Sixth Grade Campus to discuss the environmental impact of segments H and I-1, as well as potential alternate routes. For more information, see www.grandpky.com.