Status: Under construction
Originally reported cost: $337 million to $389 million
Update from Highway Boondoggles 4, 2018:
Following the 2015 opening of the six-mile portion of the 249 Tomball Tollway, the Texas Department of Transportation is still looking to further extend State Highway 249 all the way to College Station, home to Texas A&M University. The expansion would mean a two-phased approach to the approximately $350 million, 30-mile, six-lane highway from Pinehurst in Montgomery County through Todd Mission in Grimes to College Station.
During a June 2016 public hearing, nearby residents expressed opposition to the road and showed preference for the no-build alternative. Construction of the road requires the acquisition of over 600 acres of right-of-way, much of which is currently owned by ranchers and farmers, and would result in divisions of existing grazing areas.
Construction of the highway began in December 2017.
Original story from Highway Boondoggles 2, 2016:
Citing outdated traffic projections, the Texas Department of Transportation claims it needs to spend between $337 million and $389 million building a 30-mile six-lane highway from Pinehurst in Montgomery County through Todd Mission in Grimes County to College Station.
Having in April 2015 opened a $335 million, sixlane, six-mile tolled expansion of State Highway 249 from the Sam Houston Parkway to Tomball in Harris County, the Texas Department of Transportation is working to extend the highway another 30 miles, all the way to College Station, home to Texas A&M University.
The project is proposed in two phases, first connecting Pinehurst to Todd Mission and then reaching to Navasota, a suburb of College Station.
The first phase, which if approved could see work begin in 2016, would run through an area that is already suffering from ozone air pollution, to which vehicle traffic is a major contributor.
In May 2015, TxDOT approved searching for a private company to build the second phase of the highway, despite objections from residents who said it would displace farms and ruin the rural character of the communities it would pass through. They also complained that TxDOT had promised local governments additional transportation funding, which they said changed the views of local officials who had originally opposed the project.
In making the decision, state officials paid lip service to “demand for more travel options” besides highways, according to a Houston Chronicle account of the meeting. No element of the highway extensions include any elements of public transit or other methods aimed at reducing Texans’ need to drive.
The project documents cite population growth and prospective sprawling development as reasons the road may be needed, but they use outdated driving projections that do not reflect current travel trends in the area.
TxDOT expects vehicle traffic on one road in the area to quadruple from 2015 to 2040. State traffic projections represent average annual growth rates of between 3.7 and 5.5 percent. But data at TxDOT traffic counters in the area show that from 2007 to 2013, the growth was far lower, between zero and 4 percent a year.