All about the Grand Parkway
Imagine you’re driving home to Spring after a relaxing and enjoyable long weekend in San Antonio. You’re making good time when you decide to check the map on your phone or GPS. Suddenly, you realized I-10 is a thick, angry red line to indicate all the cars just sitting on the interstate. How can you avoid the traffic? The answer since early 2016 is Highway 99.
If you’re the kind of driver (or passenger) who really wants to avoid getting close to downtown, the Grand Parkway (the affectionate nickname for Highway 99) was made for you! There’s a nice long stretch that runs from Sugar Land to Spring, and it’s a great way to circumvent traffic as you navigate around the northwest side of the Greater Houston area. In addition to helping alleviate traffic congestion in some of the area’s fastest-growing areas, the Grand Parkway will provide additional hurricane and emergency evacuation routes.
How Big is Big?
First conceptualized in the early 1960s, the Grand Parkway is divided into several segments designated A through I-2. The proposed 184-mile circumferential highway could eventually traverse seven counties. According to infrastructure officials, the Grand Parkway will improve mobility, safety and reliability while also supporting business growth. It is an all-electronic toll road, and the project costs $1.28 billion. Workers began by expanding the roadway from four lanes to six just north of Katy, and the first sections stretched from U.S. 290 to I-69. By 2022, it is expected to be the largest highway loop in the United States.
For comparisons’ sake, Houston’s Beltway 8 is an 88-mile loop. When the western stretch of the Sam Houston Tollway opened in the summer of 1989, Houstonians experienced a bit of shock at its enormity. But this is Texas… so we had to go even bigger. The Grand Parkways is so big, the entire state of Rhode Island, as can all of New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) or most of Northern Ireland.
What Segments are Open?
Segments D, E, F-1, F-2 and G are the currently open sections of Highway 99.
- Segment D — 18 miles from I-69S (U.S. 59) north to I-10W
- Segment E — 15 miles between I-10 and Hwy. 290 on the west side of Houston
- Segment F1 — 11.9 miles between Hwy. 290 to Hwy. 249
- Segment F2 — 11.7 miles between Hwy. 249 to I-45
- Segment G — 14.8 miles connecting I-45 to Hwy. 59 on the north side of Houston
Segment D was an existing road that’s been open to the public since 1994, and it’s a partially controlled access toll road from the Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land north to the Katy Freeway. Overpasses in Fort Bend County opened in 2014, and it will eventually widen to six lanes.
The Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority operates and maintains the southern part of Segment D, up to Fry Road, while TxDOT operates and maintains the northern portion of Segment D, as well as the remaining open segments of the Grand Parkway, which are four-lane, controlled access toll road with intermittent frontage roads.