KATY (Covering Katy News) – The Texas Department of Transportation plans wait until 2025 to begin widening State Highway 99 in Katy, but Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers has a novel approach that he hopes will get the project started sooner.
“At my request, our County Engineer approached TxDOT with an offer to have the county advance fund some of the costs to accelerate the project, Meyers told Covering Katy News. “While we’re still working on the details, I am confident we can start construction much sooner than 2025.”
The project would add a extra lane in each direction between FM 1093 and the Katy Freeway.
Meyers has spent years attempting to get TxDOT to increase capacity on SH 99. Only recently did the agency confirm that it had the Grand Parkway expansion project on its 2025 calendar. That’s when Meyers made his offer to get the project jumpstarted by advance funding it.
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“The additional two lanes, one in each direction, will provide significant relief to the traffic congestion on SH 99,” Meyers said.
The portion of the Grand Parkway between FM 1093 and the Katy Freeway crosses from Fort Bend County to Harris County. On the Fort Bend side Meyers has been overseeing a two feeder road expansion projects that are being funded by voter approved bonds. One project is from Cinco Ranch Boulevard to Westheimer Parkway and the other is from Fry Road to FM 1093, both southbound. They will also provide traffic congestion relief for SH 99 as well as for Fry Road, Westheimer Parkway, and Cinco Ranch Blvd.
“The county-funded right turn lanes at Cinco Ranch Boulevard and SH 99 eastbound and westbound should start construction before the end of 2019. Once complete the improvements will help move traffic more efficiently at those intersections.
SOUND REDUCTION WALL INSTALLATION
The additional SH 99 lanes and the access roads will require the installation of sound walls on both the east and west sides of SH 99. The sound walls will reduce road noise from SH 99 traffic.
“We worked with TxDOT for about three years to get them to utilize either of two methods with which they were experimenting to mitigate road noise on SH 99. One method is lateral grooves in concrete paving and the other an overlay of sound-dampening asphalt,” Meyers said.
Meyers offered to have the county fund the costs of the noise mitigation to move the project forward, but the state changed policy on using those noise dampening techniques.
“TxDOT recently informed the county that they were abandoning these methods,” Meyers told Covering Katy News. “TxDOT explained that the grooves are a safety hazard and maintenance problem and the asphalt is also a maintenance problem.”
There has been social media chatter about utilizing asphalt and lateral grooves to dampen noise on SH 99. Meyers says the chatter “is misleading the public.”
Meyers says the sound dampening walls will be built, and must be built, under federal laws.