15 February 2022

Project InFocus: Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Road Segment D

Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Road Segment D (Peek Road Overpass)

The Grand Parkway Toll Road, a 180-mile-long ongoing project, is one of the largest freeway projects in the Greater Houston region. The 180 miles of roadway are divided into 11 segments (A-K), each being a unique and separate project. Segment D extends 17.4 miles from the Southwest Freeway to the Katy Freeway in Southwest Houston. EHRA Engineering was contracted in 2011 as Design Lead for the section at Peek Road within Segment D. As Design Lead, EHRA performed bridge design, designed roadway geometry, and oversaw other design elements such as drainage, roadway, retaining walls, signing, and pavement markings for the Peek Road Overpass. EHRA also designed Traffic Control Plans, which maintained traffic flow throughout the construction. The EHRA project team coordinated with Fort Bend County to overcome timing and inclusion challenges of County Plans that fell within the Grand Parkway Right-of-Way.

EHRA designed the main lane pavement and two bridges across Peek Road. The main lanes were designed to connect to existing pavement located approximately 800 linear feet to both the north and south sides of the bridges. Design plans also incorporated traffic control components, retaining walls, detours, and aesthetic bridge details that maintain the uniformity throughout the corridor. EHRA integrated accommodations for future road and/or bridge widening into the overall design. The most challenging project component was configuring geometric design. The bridge designs were more complex due to the roadway being on a superelevation and horizontal curve.

The project was placed on an unexpected hold due to traffic demand not warranting construction just as the original design plans were finalized. When the project resumed in 2019, EHRA was prepared to mobilize with updated designs modified to adhere to current standards. At this stage, the Toll Road Authority requested inclusion of an auxiliary lane between Bellaire Blvd. and Peek Road as additional scope. EHRA strategically repurposed existing pavement to reduce costs associated with procuring additional materials for the ramps.

During the final design phase, EHRA discovered an underground abandoned pipeline that could potentially conflict with the bridge foundations. With limited documentation from the pipeline company and our discovery of the depth of the pipeline, probing was not a cost-effective solution. To address this unexpected complication, EHRA developed alternate bridge foundation designs, effectively preventing possible delays to project completion.

EHRA submitted final design plans that were approved in mid-2021. Subsequently, in Fall 2021, the long-awaited construction phase kicked off. Project Manager and Structures Practice Area Leader, Sivaji Senapathi stated, “One of the most exciting things about working on this project is that it is considered to be one of the last projects to finalize the entire Segment D portion of the Grand Parkway Toll Road.” The completion of this $12.5 Million project will bookend nearly a decade of dedicated planning and engineering efforts. EHRA is proud to have contributed to this monumental project that will positively impact millions of commuters and elevate the mobility and safety of Houstonians far into the future.