The Hardy and Elysian Street projects are complicated by nearby railroad tracks, which carry heavy volumes of freight in and out of the region. Toll agency officials opted to buy Union Pacific Railroad land, eliminate a set of tracks and rebuild the rail’s main lines so the tollway and trains can run parallel. In addition, the project adds three grade separations to help street traffic move through the area.
This adds up to about $250 million in work just to prepare for construction of the elevated tollway, anticipated to start sometime in 2020, said Adam Collett, spokesman for the Harris County Toll Road Authority.
“In a growing region there are a lot of mobility needs,” Collett said.
Toll road officials have nine major projects aside from the Hardy extension in construction, awaiting final design or on the drawing board. The projects, spread across the region, are staggered so the agency can stay within its borrowing capacity based on its annual revenue of about $600 million.