With its robust economy, renowned medical treatment facilities, oil industry, and NASA's Johnson Space Center, it’s no wonder more than 2 million people call Houston “home”.
It’s also no wonder Houston boasts 11 of the most congested highways in the entire state of Texas, according to a survey conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. State Highway 288, which ranked as the third most congested highway in that survey, is currently getting an overhaul to improve traffic flow and make the commute to and from downtown Houston quicker and more pleasant.
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Here’s a brief overview of the 288 Toll Road project and how It will affect residents of Manvel.
Q. Where will the Highway 288 toll road be located?
A. The goal of the SH 288 Express Toll Lanes Expansion project is to implement improved functionality of 10.3 miles of SH 288, from US 59 to the Harris County line at Clear Creek (from the SH 288/U.S. Route 59 interchange to south of the Sam Houston Tollway). By constructing new toll lanes, installing toll infrastructure and establishing toll operations and maintenance, SH 288 will handle traffic better than ever before.
Q. What will be required to drive on the new toll road?
A. Once the planned lanes open, users will be required to have a toll pass (EZ Tag/TXTag), and will have limited opportunities to enter and exit the toll lanes. Those chances will be at Texas 288’s crossings with Pomona Parkway, Beltway 8, Loop 610 and at the medical center. The entrance at Pomona Parkway will allow Pomona residents to enter the toll road immediately and avoid the traffic around Beltway 8.
Q. Why was SH 288 chosen?
A. In addition to its dubious honor as the third most congested thoroughfare in Texas, SH 288 is a vital route for commuters, freight, and commercial trucking. The addition of two toll lanes in each direction in the median of the current roadway, along with improved functionality of all existing freeway interchanges, will enhance mobility and expand access to the Texas Medical Center and downtown Houston.
Q. When did construction on the project begin?
A. Construction efforts for this $815 million design-build venture began in fall 2016. Tolling operations are expected to commence simultaneously in all project segments.
Q. What all does the project include?
A. The project includes work on 56 bridges, construction of 18 new connector ramps, and erection of 541 structural columns. The Southmore Boulevard and Holly Hall Street bridges will be completely replaced. Several existing general purpose roadway bridges will either be widened - or new structures will be built adjacent to them - to support the new toll lanes. The most noteworthy freeway interchanges impacted by this expansion are:
- Beltway 8 (BW8), with eight direct connector/ramp bridges
- Interstate 610 (I-610), with eight direct connector/ramp bridges
- Texas Medical Center, with two direct connector/ramp bridges at the Holcombe Boulevard intersection.
There are potential future plans to add an additional purpose lane in either direction between I-610 and BW8, however there is no firm date on implementing these improvements.
While work has been phased to minimize lane closures and maintain traffic mobility, all aspects of the project will be built simultaneously throughout the entire development period.
Q. When will the 288 Toll Road be completed?
A. Initially the project was expected to be complete in the summer of 2019, however there were major delays caused by weather and difficulty obtaining steel for the work.
A recent update given by an official with the Pearland EDC now puts the projected completion date at Fall 2020. Additional Texas 288 enhancements throughout Pearland are all estimated to be complete by 2022.
Q. Will there be any measures taken to make the toll road more attractive aesthetically?
A. The Green Ribbon Project Corridor Aesthetics and Landscape Master Plan integrate landscape architecture, public art, and architecture into the engineered aspects of Texas highways in the Houston area. The Green Ribbon Project is a blueprint for district engineers and designers to bring continuity to roadway enhancements. The Green Ribbon Project (GRP) was developed by TxDOT-Houston in response to the desires of the political, civic, and ‘green’ leaders of Houston to change the city’s image. In addition to landscaping elements such as plants and trees, the city and the Pearland Economic Development Corp. will erect eight large marker signs, complete with a pear logo, on either side of the freeway within the city.
Q. How will the new toll road affect residents of Pomona and Manvel?
A. Completion of the new toll road will make commuter’s lives so much easier! Getting to employers in the downtown area and at the Medical Center will take a matter of minutes. The convenience of the new Manvel toll road is one of many reasons to live in Manvel, Tx.
Q. Where can I find updates on the Highway 288 Toll Road project?
A. One of the best sources of information is the Drive 288 project website. All the latest news is posted there, and you can also sign up to receive updates via text and/or email.
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