The Houston Sierra Club recently finalized its comments on the Draft
Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Grand Parkway
Toll Roads, Segments H and I-1 (GPHI). These incredibly destructive
parts of the ultimate and astronomically expensive (over $5 billion,
180 miles long) “Road to Nowhere” would extend 36 miles and go from
U.S. 59, near FM 1485, to Interstate 10 East, near FM 3180.
The sponsors of these unneeded toll roads, the Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and
Grand Parkway Association (GPA), are pushing hard for their approval.
The construction cost alone is projected to be one-half billion dollars
for both roads and the financing costs could be 50-100% greater.
There is no significant traffic congestion within or around the GPHI
which goes for the most part through forest and farm lands. Other areas
with traffic congestion (name your favorite daily gridlocked road)
certainly deserve the money more than these roads for land speculation
and development. In fact, the sponsors admit that one of the purposes
for these two roads is future population growth. In other words, we
will build these roads, provide free access for land developers, who
then will convince folks to come live out here. You get preplanned
growth at its finest or "their road, your money."
It won’t become your road for a long time. Currently, there is
little or no state and federal money to construct behemoth toll roads.
Therefore TxDOT is trying to put a deal together to have a private
company construct the road and operate it for, oh let’s say 50 years or
more, before it becomes your road. You should look forward to more and
higher tolls as the years go by. I wonder what shape the roads will be
in when they are turned over to the public in 50 years? Anyone want to
bet these roads won’t be in great shape?
Some of the problems include:
- The loss of at least 25,000 acres due to land development caused by the roads.
- The loss of at least 1,500 acres of wetlands due to land development caused by the roads.
- Destruction of hundreds of acres important agricultural lands and
the bisection of hundreds more acres which makes farming difficult to
- Creation of hundreds of additional tons of nasty air pollutants
including ozone, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon
monoxide, air toxics, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, and many more.
- The generation of millions of gallons of dirty run-off water from roads and other paved development caused by these roads.
The Sierra Club continues to track the path of this folly. The
question is, "When will citizens wake-up to the privatization of their
roads and the waste of their tax dollars?" It better be quick or the
critters and "we the people" will have heck to pay!