PROGRAM SCOPE FAQ
Why are you rebuilding US 290?
The reconstruction of US 290 is essential due to the exploding rates of growth in the Houston region. The City of Houston is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States and the largest in Texas. With regional growth-rate predictions at approximately 72 percent between the years 2010 and 2040, traffic congestion and transportation-related problems will follow. The regional transportation network will be unable to provide an acceptable level of service on many travel corridors. In particular, the US 290 Corridor has experienced considerable growth. With the current corridor population at 698,000 and a projected 2040 population of 1.1 million, this corridor is facing serious transportation issues.
What is the overall vision in regard to reconstructing US 290?
Click here for overall vision
Why is TxDOT proposing an interim configuration featuring a one reversible High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)/Toll lane? Weren’t there going to be two to three such lanes?
TxDOT and the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) had a Memorandum of Understanding for a US 290 interim configuration that consisted of a two- to three-lane reversible facility and one additional general purpose lane in each direction from I-610 to the Grand Parkway. Resources and agency responsibility have been reallocated and the recommended US 290 interim configuration has changed. With HCTRA funding no longer available, TxDOT had to modify the previously-recommended US 290 interim configuration to reduce its overall cost.Given this situation, TxDOT sought to provide more interim improvements that could be incorporated into the long term plan for US 290. In addition, various engineering-related design issues --and the increased construction costs associated with those issues -- prevents the department from constructing a three lane reversible facility that would fit within the existing US 290 corridor and still comply with Federal Highway Administration guidelines and TxDOT safety requirements.
TxDOT is proposing a design for the initial US 290 construction phase which includes one additional general purpose lane in each direction from I-610 to SH 6, with a one-lane reversible High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)/Toll lane in the center of US 290 from I-610 to SH 99 (Grand Parkway). Improvements to make the facility safer and more efficient will include mainlane shoulders to accommodate vehicle emergencies. During the current construction, the HOV/Toll lane between Beltway 8 and I-610 was narrowed and shifted to allow the contractors to set up safe work zones on the original outbound US 290 mainlane pavement for construction of the new outbound US 290 mainlane bridges. Once construction is completed, the new reversible HOV/Toll lane will have shoulders and be wide enough for a vehicle to safely pass a stalled vehicle in the lane. The US 290 interim configuration does not impact the on-going construction as it will be constructed within the right of way that has been environmentally cleared. As of summer 2018, five projects are substantially complete and construction is occurring on eight other The program covers a distance of 38 miles from I-610 to FM 2920 near the Harris/Waller County line.
Benefits to carpoolers and buses currently using US 290 include an extension of the existing reversible lane to the Grand Parkway. Access to the reversible facility will be from direct connection ramps from the Northwest Transit Center, West Little York Park and Ride, Northwest Station Park and Ride and slip ramps to serve the Skinner Park and Ride. TxDOT is currently working with the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) to identify other potential transit-related improvements to US 290.
These proposed improvements are part of TxDOT’s long range vision for the US 290 corridor, which also includes construction of the Hempstead Tollway from I-610 to SH 99 with two lanes in each direction, and a 50-foot reserve for future high-capacity transit. The interim configuration allows TxDOT to maintain access for carpoolers and transit on an HOV/Toll lane until the Hempstead Tollway is built. The ultimate plan is to move the HOV lane from US 290 to the new Hempstead Tollway once the latter is operational.
TxDOT held public meetings on the proposed revised lane configuration on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at the Berry Center in Cypress, and on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at the Sheraton Brookhollow hotel at the I-610/US 290 interchange. Click here to view materials shown at those public meetings.
What has been the process to get US 290 reconstructed and what is the current program construction status?
After several years of intensive research, numerous studies and extensive public involvement efforts, a Major Investment Study (MIS) determined that reconstructing the US 290/Hempstead Corridor is a worthwhile investment in the community's future.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) developed a preliminary map plan for the US 290/Hempstead Corridor as part of an environmental study process, executed by TxDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in accordance with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This environmental process led to the creation of the program's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which was made available in April 2010. The wait period for the FEIS document ended in May 2010. TxDOT addressed public comments received during the wait period and re-submitted the FEIS document to the FHWA prior to requesting consideration of a Record of Decision (ROD). This request was granted in August 2010.
That ROD allowed TxDOT to improve both US 290 and construct the parallel Hempstead Tollway along Hempstead Road. TxDOT ultimately plans to build the Hempstead Tollway, but current funding conditions mean that ultimate plan is not currently feasible and the tollway will not likely be built for 20 years.
However, TxDOT wanted to make what US 290 improvements it could as soon as possible, and in June 2011 construction began at the I-610/US 290 interchange. As of summer 2019 12 of our 13 projects are substantially complete from I-610 to near the Harris/Waller County line, a total of 38 miles. TxDOT will build initial improvements on US 290 from I-610 to SH 99 (Grand Parkway), please click on the FAQ above to see the details of what TxDOT is proposing. The US 290 footprint as approved in the program's FEIS will not change.
Is commuter rail a part of the overall US 290 Program construction plan?
It is, and the program's Major Investment Study (MIS) and traffic demand studies for this corridor indicate passenger rail in concert with managed toll lanes on Hempstead Tollway, five/six lanes in each direction on US 290 from I-610 to SH 6 and four lanes in each direction from SH 6 to the proposed SH 99/Grand Parkway are all needed for the projected traffic demand. The vision for the US 290 Program is multi-modal and TxDOT has identified a 50-foot reserve for high-capacity transit on the maps. There are also accommodations within the roadway border width (area between the frontage road and right-of-way line) for bike lanes along Hempstead.
What is the program's overall cost?
The estimated cost of the ultimate US 290 Program improvements currently under construction is $2.5 billion. That includes funding for design, engineering, construction, right of way and utility relocation. The cost of the Hempstead Tollway, for which there is currently no funding, is $2.4 billion. With regard to the tollway, it does not include the cost of designing and constructing the High Capacity Transit Corridor for which we are reserving space.
Will the trees at US 290 and IH 610 be replaced once construction is completed?
TxDOT considers three alternatives:
- Save - efforts are made to preserve any trees that can be preserved by design.
- Transplant - if it is feasible to move trees that are in conflict with design alternatives.
- Replace - as part of the Green Ribbon Project all new construction includes landscape development.
Due to the size of the trees and physical characteristics of the US 290/I-610 site, transplanting is not practical. Most, if not all, of the trees will be removed. Upon completion of the interchange new trees will be replanted (reforested). Currently the interchange at I-10 at the I-610 (West Loop) is being planted with over 10,000 new trees.
When will property owners expect to hear from TxDOT regarding right of way (ROW) acquisition?
In 2016, TxDOT acquired the last of the 373 parcels needed for US 290 construction. The ROW acquisition process for the Hempstead Tollway cannot begin until funding becomes available.
Will customers always have access to the businesses along the corridor during construction?
Contractors will be required to maintain at least one access point via driveways to all properties during construction. If your property has special issues such as wide-load delivery or large delivery trucks, we will work with you to accommodate your needs. In most cases, proposed driveways will be maintained at the same width as current driveways.
How will the METRO HOV lane be impacted?
In January 2014 METRO closed the Pinemont Park and Ride, and in spring 2014 the T-ramp access from US 290 to that facility was removed. But the METRO HOV system will be maintained during program construction.
For more information about METRO’s Park and Ride services, visit their website at www.ridemetro.org.