Houston is a faraway place on FM 1413 in southern Liberty County, where a driver is more likely to see a pony munching on grass than a shop on the corner. If not for the trees and an electrical transmission line, the sky would be unbroken, horizon to horizon.
Everything changes about three-quarters of a mile west of Texas 146. A tight stand of trees on each side of the road gives way to a wide swath of flat land, from which a concrete wall rises along a ramp crawling with construction workers building one of three new segments of the Grand Parkway.
It soon could look a lot more like other parts of suburban Houston where the Grand Parkway has gone, with cul-de-sacs replacing horse pastures and retail centers sprouting at major intersections.
In nearby Dayton, where the tollway offers opportunity and oppression alike, residents are quietly but amicably divided.