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Wharton County’s state representative went before highway officials last week supporting a project which could make looping Houston much easier.

“The area is growing at an incredible rate and there is a tremendous need for traffic relief,” Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton, told Texas Department of Transportation officials at a public hearing for the agency’s 10-year plan on Aug. 6.

Representing District 85, Stephenson serves Wharton and Jackson counties as well as the eastern portion of Fort Bend County.

The Grand Parkway Project, part of which would link a Hwy. 99 (Crabb River Road) south of U.S. 59 to Hwy. 288, was his main concern. The project may be removed from the plan, putting its construction at more than 10 years out.

TxDOT’s argument for removing the Grand Parkway from its list is a policy to steer away from the construction of toll roads.

Fort Bend and six others counties affected counties, counter that developers have moved into place anticipating this roadwork.

Then there is the issue of public safety.

“This project is critical infrastructure needed for Hurricane evacuation,” Stephenson added.

It’s completion will provide both the Port of Houston and the Port of Freeport a direct route to both I-69 and I-10.

A lawsuit has been threatened if the project is dropped.

“I hope and pray that TxDOT honors its promise from ten years ago, but if they don’t I will bring forth legislation to complete the project,” Stephenson said.

The ultimate fate of the Grand Parkway Project, as it pertains to TxDOT’s 2020 UTP, will be decided by TxDot on Aug. 29.

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