Almost 200 concerned parties ventured to Austin on Tuesday in support of a plan to extend the Grand Parkway through Galveston County, a project whose future has been murky until recent weeks.
“If I was on their side, I think it would be hard to say no,” League City Mayor Pat Hallisey said. “I think there was a good turnout, and we said what we needed to say. For the life of us, we can’t figure out what any of this is about. But we’ll see what happens soon enough.”
The Texas Transportation Commission held the last public hearing about its 2020 funding plan on Tuesday before a final Aug. 29 vote. The list of projects caused a stir locally when it was unveiled in July and included a provision to remove the unfinished parts of the Grand Parkway, a total of more than $1.3 billion, from the 2020 Unified Transportation Program.
State Sen. Larry Taylor has since said he believes the project won’t ultimately be kept off the funding list, but local leaders across Galveston County, including County Judge Mark Henry and representatives from most county municipalities, still ventured to Austin to make their support known, Hallisey said.
Local leaders argue the long-envisioned project is critical because it would spur development along the northern reaches of Galveston County, especially in the fast-growing western part of League City. Additionally, it would enhance the region’s storm evacuation options and provide a much-needed east-to-west transportation option in an area where most highways run north to south.
Tuesday’s meeting lasted about two hours and featured only those who came to speak about the funding plan. No one from the commission made any official comments on whether or not the Grand Parkway would remain on the list, Hallisey said.
“We’ll be back up there on the 29th when the decisions are made,” Hallisey said.
The Grand Parkway, or state Highway 99, is an unfinished loop around the greater Houston area under construction since 1994. Segment B of the project calls for a highway stretching from Interstate 45 at state Highway 646 to state Highway 35 in Alvin, officials said.
State leaders have been mostly evasive about what led them to consider pulling the project, but many have guessed the root of the problem stems from a growing opposition to toll roads. The Grand Parkway would be a toll road.