For those casually traveling on SH 249 Sept. 25, it must have been a curious site.
Horses, riders, flags, heavy equipment, a large tent and dozens of people lined up near Hirschfield Road and 249, to celebrate the official groundbreaking for the Tomball Tollway. The groundbreaking was held by the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce.
"This is a great day for Tomball," said Congressman Michael McCaul. "This will relieve so much congestion."
The long awaited project is finally coming to fruition, as the Harris County Toll Road Authority has awarded a contract to Webber LLC. The contract will cover a nearly 4-mile segment of the project from Spring Cypress Road to south of Willow Creek. A second segment from there to Alice Road will be given the go-ahead sometime in October. Another segment from FM 2920 to FM 1774 is scheduled for design in 2015, while the SH 249 project from FM 1774 to Navasota has recently been given state approval.
The project is a culmination of a rare cooperative effort between multiple government entities.
"So many people had a part in this," said Montgomery County Commissioner Craig Doyal. "I am extremely excited."
Doyal went on to tell those gathered an anecdote in cooperation.
"We had an 8-and-a-half by 11 map of 249 and (Harris County) Commissioner Jack Cagle wrote across it 'I want this to happen' and signed it," said Doyal. "I grabbed a pen and wrote 'me too'."
State Representative Allen Fletcher said the groundbreaking is the peak of a 10-year effort that he has been a part of.
"I am so excited to see this project start," he said. "10 years ago I was a member of the Tomball chamber and I became the head of the mobility and transportation committee. I started trying to get this project worked on back then."
Fletcher said that early in his legislative career that they got $12 million of ‘use it or lose it’ dollars from TxDOT to build the bypass area. He said that was an important step because it gave them something to work on.
"This wasn't even on the 30-year plan," Fletcher said of the 249 route to Navasota. "In just a few years they moved the 290 expansion up 18 years, added the 249 project which wasn't even on it and the Grand Parkway segment. All of that is going to play a huge role in mobility for this region."
"This is the fastest growing area in the state of Texas and with that kind of growth we need the infrastructure to handle it," he said.
Magnolia City Administrator Paul Mendes echoed all of the speakers sentiments about what the project will mean for the region's economy.
"It's going to be great for Magnolia," he said. "This will make Magnolia a part of a huge economic corridor and have an impact
like nothing in the last 50 years."