The Westpark Tollway, also Fort Bend Westpark Tollway, is a limited-access toll road serving western Houston and Harris County, and northeastern Fort Bend County. Construction on the facility began in 2001 and portions of the road were opened to traffic in May 2004. Construction of the roadway was completed in August 2005. The Westpark Tollway begins at Post Oak Boulevard in the Uptown District of Houston and runs approximately 20 miles west to State Highway 99 (Grand Parkway). It runs roughly parallel and to the south of Westheimer Road (FM 1093) in Harris County and concurrently with FM 1093 in Fort Bend County.
The Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) and the Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority (FBCTRA) operate the Westpark Tollway jointly. The 14-mile HCTRA section is simply named Westpark Tollway; however, the six-mile section of the toll road operated by the FBCTRA is named Fort Bend Westpark Tollway.
There are two major interchanges in between: the Southwest Freeway (US 59) and the West Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8), along with several minor interchanges. The namesake of the tollway is Westpark Drive—an east-west major arterial running through a mostly industrial area. Like other toll roads in the Houston area, the speed limit is 65 mph—even inside Beltway 8.
The Westpark Tollway is the first fully electronic toll road in the United States. There are no tollbooths or toll collectors along either section of the route. The only way to legally drive on the road is by using a transponder unit attached to a vehicle's windshield (either HCTRA's EZ TAG, NTTA's TollTag, or TxTAG). These transponders communicate with overhead sensors to deduct tolls from the user's toll account. Prior to the Westpark Tollway's 2004 opening, HCTRA ran ads on TV, radio and print, stating that the tollway is "EZ Tag Only: No Cash, No Coins, No Exceptions!"
The project improves auto mobility for residents in northeastern Fort Bend County by creating a new east-west corridor with access to State Highway 6, Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8), US 59, and the Uptown District of Houston.
Parallel to the Fort Bend Westpark Tollway, FM 1093 has been widened by Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to four lanes. FM 1093 at this location serves as a toll-free frontage road for the tollway. The Fort Bend Westpark Tollway will add an additional four lanes to this effort—resulting in an eight-lane road. TxDOT is funding construction of the tollway interchanges at State Highway 99 and FM 1464.
The Westpark corridor has a storied history as a transportation possibility. Originally on the books in the 1950s as the location of U.S. Highway 59 (Southwest Freeway) before developers lured it south to serve Sharpstown, the Westpark corridor has seen several transportation plans. The first time a toll road was mentioned was in a 1979 survey of several routes by the Texas Turnpike Authority, leading to the construction of the Hardy Toll Road in Northern Harris County by HCTRA. A heavy rail line along the corridor was floated in the 1980s, but failed to win voter approval, along with a monorail that was ended with Mayor Kathy Whitmire in 1991. Another commuter rail idea ended as METRO purchased the corridor and planned to run trains, but reversed itself and floated plans for a reversible high occupancy vehicle and bus transit lane to supplement the Southwest Freeway, tearing out the tracks in the mid 1990s. In 1999, HCTRA and METRO reached an agreement for half of the 100 foot right-of-way to go towards a toll road run by HCTRA and the other half for use by METRO for light rail. Whether or not it will be the main corridor for the University Line is a contentious issue - Richmond Avenue, to the north, emerged as another option under consideration, along with the fact that Westpark Drive and its corresponding railroad right-of-way do not intersect METRORail at any point, much less Wheeler Station, which was chosen as the junction between the lines. As of 2006, a final corridor has not been chosen.
|Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|Peek Road||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|Mason Road, Grand Mission Boulevard||No westbound entrance|
|Grand Mission Boulevard||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|Westpark Drive||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|Westbound exit and entrance|
|Eldridge Parkway||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|Old Westheimer Road, Dairy Ashford Road||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|Gessner Road||No westbound exit|
|Fondren Road, Gessner Road||No westbound entrance|
|- Downtown||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance; eastbound entrance from US 59 north|
|Westpark Drive||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|Post Oak Boulevard||Eastbound exit only|