ith $168 million in funding from state legislators in hand, along with an additional $2 billion in funding that the Texas Department of Transportation identified in its budget earlier this year, the 38-mile US 290 corridor, one of the most congested roads in Texas, will see expansion work up to 20 years sooner than expected.

Photo by Nick Escobedo
US 290 north of the IH 610 W interchange is one of the areas that will be under construction next year.
Photo courtesy of TxDOT
A timeline showing the revised schedule and expected bid amounts of the US 290 work.

According to the agency, the completion of these projects along 290 will result in a 40% decrease in commute time for 290 drivers.

With funding from the Texas Legislature through Rider 42 of the appropriations bill, allocating $3 billion of a total of $5 billion in bond funding approved by voters under Prop. 12, along with bond proceeds from Prop. 14 “and our partnership with the Harris County Toll Road Authority, we are able to advance the construction schedule on the US 290 Program,” says Karen Othon, public information officer for the US 290 project at TxDOT. “This partnership allows us to accelerate the construction schedule between IH 610 and SH 6 and these projects will be under construction by 2014, with a targeted completion of 2016.”

So by this time next year, US 290 from IH 610 to SH 6 will be under construction, she says.

Under the agreement, TxDOT will provide $787 million for the project, while HCTRA will put in $400 million for 290 construction between IH 610 and SH 99/Grand Parkway. TxDOT and the HCTRA are working on finalizing an agreement that will provide the funding from state legislators.

“We just took bids on a major project in September for the US 290 and BW8 area,” Othon says. “Next week on Tuesday, we’re going to be taking bids on the second IH 610 to US 290, what we call the J1 interchange project. That will involve building the outbound connector ramp from I 10 to US 290. Work started last year on the inbound ramp from 290 to I 10.”

The J1 interchange project is worth an estimated $110 million, Othon says.

More contracts are still forthcoming as well.

“We already have two contracts in place, and then we’re taking new one next week. If we don’t include those, there are six more contracts after that,” Othon says. “In 2013, we will take bids for construction on five projects – tentatively scheduled for two in March, one in April, one in June and one in August. The other two projects, west of SH 6 to SH 99 are tentatively scheduled for 2015 and 2016 lettings.”

The project includes plans for reconstruction and widening of 290, including four general-purpose lanes for ingoing and outbound traffic, along with two to three reversible HOV/toll lanes, along with construction of a parallel-running Hempstead Tollway.