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June 21, 2001

Ceremony Celebrates Westpark Tollway Groundbreaking

On Thursday, June 21, 2001, a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction of the Harris County Toll Road Authority's newest toll facility, the Westpark Tollway, was held in the Tinseltown parking lot at Westpark and the Sam Houston Tollway. Hosted by Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, Harris County Commissioners and the Toll Road Authority, County officials and representatives from the Westchase District, West Houston Association and Ft. Bend County addressed a crowd of approximately 250 guests, all heralding the coming of this new transportation corridor.

Construction of the new Westpark Tollway is now underway, with work beginning on Phase I (between Alder and Royalton, which includes the Chimney Rock intersection) on June 15, 2001. The new toll road, which will be entirely automated (EZ TAG only), will extend from Eldridge Parkway (just east of Hwy. 6) to the intersection of Richmond Ave. and South Post Oak Blvd in the Galleria area. This project will span approximately 12 miles, following the Southern Pacific rail line and Westpark Blvd. until it reaches Gessner. West of Gessner, plans call for the new toll road to parallel the existing Southern Pacific railroad corridor. Construction cost estimates for the Westpark Toll Road have been projected to be from $240 - $260 million, which will be funded through bond sales and existing toll road funds.

Phase I of the project, which began west of IH 610 and extends just east of Old Westheimer Rd., should be open to traffic on May 1, 2004.

The new Westpark Tollway will be a first-of-its-kind for Harris County, in that access to the facility will be restricted to EZ TAG users only. HCTRA plans to launch an extensive promotional campaign prior to the system opening in May of 2004 to inform the public of how the system will work and encourage motorist to enroll in the EZ TAG program well in advance. In addition to HCTRA's third EZ TAG store which opened in the Town & County area on Houston's west side, a fourth TAG stores will open soon on Dairy Ashford.