Motorists (and flyers) beware: If you’re planning to drive on the Hardy Toll Road or the connector to Bush Intercontinental Airport this weekend, you’ll need to take another route.
Starting at noon on Friday and extending through 5 a.m. on Monday morning, all 22 miles of the Hardy, from I-45 in Spring straight down to the North Loop, will be shut down for construction. Crews will be demolishing toll canopies and plazas as the Harris County Toll Road Authority converts the stretch to electronic, open road tolling. On July 18, when the roadway is reopened, cars will need an EZ TAG transponder on board, as coins and cash will no longer be accepted. EZ TAG accounts are available online and at select grocery stores.
Patti Evans, HCTRA’s assistant director for communications, says that in her 10 years on the job, she can’t remember a complete closure of this magnitude. But, in conjunction with an ongoing lane expansion, she thinks the switch will relieve congestion and improve safety on a road that’s seen a sizable uptick in transactions since it opened in the late 1980s. “We know that in the end, it’s going to be great for commuters,” she says.
Evans’ department is urging Houstonians to take precautions this weekend, and to build in extra time while planning trips. Alternatives include I-45 and Highway 59, though the Hardy is technically meant as an alternative to those heavily trafficked routes. On second thought, maybe this is the weekend we all just stay home.