Sam Houston Tollway

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  • Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Sam Houston Tollway in Harris County took nearly 60 years to go from inception to completion. Originally proposed by the City of Houston in 1952 as the Outer Belt Drive the project lead was taken by Harris County in 1960. After nine years of County development, several miles of frontage roads and a limited amount of main lanes had been constructed, and in 1969 the project was taken over by the Texas Highway Department (now TxDOT). The official highway designation became Beltway 8. TxDOT advanced the construction and completed the circumferential roadway through the construction of frontage roads with limited number of grade separations at major freeways and railroad crossings. Main lanes had been constructed by Harris County near Intercontinental airport and TxDOT added several more miles on the north side to complete the first freeway segment. In 1983 The Harris County Toll Road Authority was created by a 70% margin of the voters of Harris County. Along with the Hardy Toll Road, the West Belt and portions of the East Belt were constructed as tolled main lanes and the roadway was renamed the Sam Houston Tollway. In actuality the Frontage Roads are still a TxDOT highway and designated as Beltway 8. The main lanes throughout most of the loop roadway are owned and operated by HCTRA and are designated as the Sam Houston Tollway. A few miles of main lanes from IH 45 North to US 59, the EastTex Freeway, are still a TxDOT facility, un-tolled and are officially named the Sam Houston Parkway.

HR Green has designed six projects along the Sam Houston Tollway. The first project was the overpass and adjacent mile of Tollway at T. C. Jester Drive on the SHTW north in the late 1980’s. The second was the design of one mile of the Sam Houston Tollway South and the overpass at Wayside Drive in 1994. In 2000, HR Green designed the portion of the Westpark Tollway that included the interchange with the SHTW West and the relocation of the Beltway 8 Frontage Roads within the limits of that project. That was followed by the widening of the SHTW West from Richmond Avenue to the South Toll Plaza. The largest was the design of the Sam Houston Tollway East from just east of US 59 to east of Wilson Road, a 2.1 mile section of the Tollway that opened in 2011. The most recent is the widening of a one-mile section of Sam Houston Tollway South including the overpass at Kirby Drive. For 25 years HR Green has been a part of the design, construction and reconstruction of the Beltway 8 / Sam Houston Tollway system and we are currently working on a maintenance contract for the overlay and bridge repairs to the Ship Channel Bridge that carries the SHTW East over the Houston Ship Channel.

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