As previously reported, Harris County Commissioners Court is possibly moving forward with building Segment E of the proposed 180 mile toll road, the Grand Parkway.
We decided to take a look at the residents of the northwestern tip of Harris County, for whom proponents of this road claim the road is being built.
County Commissioner Steve Radack has explained several times at public meetings that we need to build this section of the Grand Parkway because it takes residents of Hockley 2 hours to drive to downtown Houston during rush hour. Hockley is a small town on the Northwestern tip of Harris County surrounded by farmland.
We decided to look at this area to better understand this perceived need. The map to the right shows a five mile buffer (in shades of gray) around a section of 290 just beyond the intersection with the proposed Grand Parkway. We include some amount of people who live inside the proposed Grand Parkway in this area, to allow for those who might choose to drive out to the toll road to take it over to I-10. In 2005, 14,533 people, or 0.4% of the residents of Harris County, lived in this area and it is expected to grow in population to 89,090 by 2035. While this is a tremendously high projected rate of growth for this area, that amount of people would only rise to 1.5% of the residents of Harris County in 2035.
Also, when the Houston-Galveston Area Council produced these estimates, all transportation projects in the existing Transportation Improvement Program were factored into the forecasts. Any time that a roadway is constructed, it slightly reduces the transportation costs associated with living in the surrounding area, making it feasible to build new low density residential areas. Were this roadway not to be built, some amount less of people would live in this area, although we don’t know how many less.
Of those 14,553 existing residents of this area, we can expect that 6,983 of them have jobs, if this area is similar to the rest of the Houston region in terms of the amount of people with jobs. Further, we can assume that 7% of those people with jobs work in downtown, like the rest of the region, meaning this proposed toll road may slightly reduce the trip to work for about 489 people. This project is estimated to cost something over $500 million, at a cost of $1 million dollars a person.
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