KTRK ABC 5/5/14 By Deborah Wrigley -VIDEO-

HOUSTON — Even as construction dust flies at the intersection of Highway 290 and the West Loop, and jackhammers provide a noise track for drivers, Harris County and the Texas Department of Transportation are negotiating the details of the billion dollar plus contract.
Harris County is expected to put in $400 million to the project, but it hasn’t yet inked a formal contract with the state.
County infrastructure director Art Storey says he is in touch with his state counterparts nearly daily. The details he wants addressed range from the wording on signage, entrance and exit lanes and much in between.
The Westpark toll road got a lot of attention on its opening day when Storey closed an exit lane because cars were cutting into moving traffic and nearly causing accidents. That’s one of Storey’s lessons learned from the past, although he points out he wasn’t involved in the Westpark’s design.
Although Highway 290 is a state project, the county’s contribution will pay for toll lanes, in the form of contra-flow and high occupancy traffic lanes. It will also generate money for the Harris County Toll Road Authority.
A spokesperson for TxDOT says Harris County has long been one of its mobility partners in the Houston region, and expects the agreement to be finalized soon, even as construction continues in what has become one of the most congested freeways in the state.
Storey says he expects an agreement to be before county commissioners, poised for a vote, as soon as next months, or at most, before year’s end.

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