Several Grimes County Commissioners Now Don't Support State Highway 249 Plan

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NAVASOTA - Several Grimes County Commissioners want to put the brakes on the new State Highway 249 that would connect Grimes County to the Houston area.

It's also known as the Aggie Highway or Aggie Expressway.

News 3 looks at why commissioners aren't liking the latest proposal from TxDOT, even though the state agency says it can't be built without it being a toll road.

Four Grimes County Commissioners are now saying slow down on proposed State Highway 249.

"We were looking for the economic development side of it and we're just not seeing that proposal at this time," said Pam Finke, a Grimes County Commissioner for Precinct 4 .

She says commissioners originally supported the project when a resolution was passed about 18 months ago but doesn't like a toll road plan.

"Our biggest concern right now is the way it's going to come through the rural properties and going to interrupt a lot of our landowners where the land is their livelihood," she said.

County Judge Betty Shiflett would prefer a free highway but supports a toll plan as the area grows and for emergency traffic including hurricane evacuations.

"We examined the situation very thoroughly when we passed the resolution. I don't think anyone should be surprised that there was two alternatives; a state highway or toll road," Judge Shiflett said.

One of the biggest concerns for several commissioners includes the possible route of 249 connecting into State Highway 105 and not Highway 6. They say 105 is already very busy and that would be a safety issue.

Sections of State Highway 249 are already being built in Harris and Montgomery Counties with Google Maps showing an outline for a future Aggie Expressway.

Bob Colwell with TxDOT says the highway would have a speed limit of 70 to 75 miles per hour, only two lanes but with passing zones. The preferred route is a 14 mile segment connecting SH 105 to F-M 1774.

The plan is estimated to cost $95 million.

"This is still just a very preliminary work. We're just trying to narrow the gap of where we're trying to get our environmental clearance on. The no build option is still an option and it always will be," Colwell said.

"I believe we have enough dollars somewhere that we can fund this highway without it being an imposition to the citizens of this county. I mean it's going to impact them greatly in order to even ride on the road," said Barbara Walker, Grimes County Commissioner for Precinct 3.

TxDOT will host another public hearing in September or October and could still kill the project.

It's not known yet how much it would cost if it becomes a toll road in Grimes County but TxDOT says toll roads in Texas typically average around 18 cents per mile.

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