I-45 corridor work kicks off summer travel season
Just as summer traffic is ramping up, so are plans for a Gulf Freeway expansion project that includes the replacement of the Clear Lake City Boulevard and Dixie Farm Road overpasses.
The project, which will run from Clear Lake City Boulevard to Kurland Drive, half a mile north of the South Sam Houston Tollway, is expected to last for about 48 months, said Danny Perez, public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportations Houston District.
Construction will include widening six existing main lanes to 10 and adding an additional frontage lane, totaling three in each direction.
"That's our major corridor from our major markets," said Pam Summers, Bay Area Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau president.
"Any expansion of Interstate 45 is going to be a blessing for us because it's going to increase the ease of getting here, and that's a positive.
"Whenever there's construction, that's a real sign of growth in our area," Summers said.
Traffic flow on the I-45 corridor is projected to grow from the current estimate of 173,000 vehicles per day to 268,000 vehicles per day by 2022.
The project, which was awarded to Williams Brothers Construction Co., Inc. in May, is expected to cost of a little more than $77 million.
It is being funded by bonds issued through Proposition 12, which was approved in November 2007 and allowed for $5 billion in support funding for needed transportation projects.
In 2009, the state Legislature gave its approval to contract $2 billion of those funds for non-tolled highway projects.
The expansion project will require no federal funding.
An exact start date for construction has not been set, but the contractor could begin as early as July, said Perez.
Businesses in the area will be affected by the project in various ways, which may prompt reviews from the department.
"We are acquiring 12 parcels for this project," Perez stated in an e-mail.
"The impacts range from partial right-of-way acquisitions, resulting in minimal reductions in parking, to total relocations. Specific impacts upon the affected properties would require a detail review of the schematic."
Perez said three through lanes along the I-45 main lanes will be maintained in each direction during construction to minimize congestion. Construction work will also be carried out overnight.
Another project slated to begin this summer, also awarded to Williams Brothers Construction Co., Inc., is the reconstruction of the 610 North Loop from Ella Boulevard to the U.S. 290 interchange.
"When there's construction there will be some inconveniences in that area," Summers said.
"TxDOT has been very good to reroute people during non-rush hour; so it should be fine."
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