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New tollway to ease congestion in Houston area

This photo shows the interchange at Interstate 10 and State Highway 99. (Courtesy:TxDOT)

The Associated Press

12/24/2013

HOUSTON — Traveling on the west and northwest side of Houston became a lot easier and more convenient over the weekend as the Texas Department of Transportation began the process of opening Segment E of the Grand Parkway, also known as SH 99.

The process, which includes powering street signals and lighting, moving traffic barrels and verifying the safety of all traffic movements along the 30 miles of roadway (15 miles in each direction), was expected to be finalized Saturday afternoon.

The new stretch of roadway also can be driven for free through Jan. 31.

"By providing much-needed infrastructure to keep Houston's growing population moving, TxDOT continues its commitment to supporting economic growth and development across the Lone Star State," said Commissioner Jeff Moseley, Texas Transportation Commission.

The new 15-mile, four-lane toll road links the communities of Katy and Cypress, providing nonstop travel between I-10 and US 290. The new roadway will alleviate traffic congestion for those drivers who previously had been navigating a series of county and local roads, sitting through congestion and traffic lights, or driving miles out of their way.

"The SH 99 roadway will help residents in the fast-growing communities west of Houston get around the metro area faster and more conveniently," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director.

After the free period for Segment E ends, drivers will need a prepaid toll account to pay their tolls. All tolls will be collected electronically on the high-tech toll road as no manned tollbooths are included. Any of the three Texas toll tags (TxTag, EZ TAG and TollTag) will be accepted.

Motorists who do not already have a toll tag can obtain one online at www.TxTag.org, or by calling (888) 468-9824. TxTag is accepted on all toll roads in Houston and throughout Texas.

The cost of tolls on the new Grand Parkway will depend on the type of vehicle and where a driver gets on and off the toll road.

For commercial five-axle trucks, the toll will range from $1.68 to $7.60, depending on where the truck gets on and off the tollway.

For a complete list of tolls, go to http://www.txtag.org/grandparkwayE.php.

 For drivers of two-axle vehicles, a one-way trip between I-10 and U.S. Highway 290 will cost $2.88. Eventually, there will be 10 intersections along Segment E from which drivers can enter and exit, in addition to the connections at I-10 and U.S. 290. Rates, maps and additional information about Segment E can be found at www.TxTag.org.

Segment E from I-10 to US 290 is the newest section of the planned 185-mile Grand Parkway/SH 99 loop circling the Houston metro region. Currently, Segments D and I-2 are the only other portions open to traffic. Construction on segments F-1, F-2 and G began in July, and is scheduled for completion in late 2015. Once open, that new 38-mile stretch will link Segment E at US 290 to U.S. 59 north of Houston.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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