Houston Chronicle The Highwayman Blog 6/13/14 By Dug Begley

Now that Harris County has amended its deal to cooperate on the U.S. 290 widening project, Texas Department of Transportation officials will spend the next few months evaluating the next step.
The current construction will continue on schedule, TxDOT spokeswoman Raquelle Lewis said. The contracts for those jobs relates to the four general use lanes in each direction. The plans for three reversible lanes — which were intended when the county and state were partners — were always going to be other phases of the work, Lewis said.
Going it alone, TxDOT can decide whether to build the three lanes, or add more general use lanes and fewer HOV/HOT lanes.
“How and what that will look is what we will have to determine,” Lewis said.
What’s almost assured is the project will include some general use lanes and some carpool capacity. Not only are the HOV lanes used to encourage carpooling, but they are the backbone of regional transit, allowing Metropolitan Transit Authority to operate park and ride buses.
If TxDOT changes from the current four lanes in each direction and three reversible lanes model, officials would have to restart the environmental process, which includes some public comment of the revised project.
County officials opted to restructure the deal after citing concerns with the design, half their funding commitment and cede control of any toll lanes along U.S. 290 and Interstate 10 to TxDOT. Some businesses and local officials along U.S. 290 meanwhile worried about potential noise and construction impacts changing for the worse.
“I cannot speak definitely about some of the technical issues,” Lewis said, ” but I have no doubt we will honor the commitments in terms of noise mitigation on this facility.”


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