If you love Houston traffic, Stockholm Syndrome issues aside, this news is for you:
Starting in 2020, I-45 will be getting a major facelift and new location after the Texas Department of Transportation recently approved a rebuild of the major traffic artery at its interchange with I-69.
As part of a seven-phase construction project, the Houston plans, which includes rebuilding I-45 around downtown instead of through it, along with nine other smaller projects throughout Fort Bend and Brazoria counties, are projected to cost over $1.3 billion.
Plans for these major updates have been in the works for well over two years; xDOT released an animated video of the then-hypothetical improvement projects back in 2015:
And if all goes according to schedule, I-45 will run parallel to U.S. 59 behind the convention center downtown sometime around 2022.
In an interview, TxDOT Houston Director Quincy Allen said the projects are part of long-term improvement initiatives designed to improve Houston traffic flow, especially through downtown, where it is estimated drivers have lost over 21 million hours in traffic.
With Houston’s population growing and projected to increase, traffic will continue to be an issue beyond downtown.
Major construction projections are already underway further down I-45 toward Clear Lake, where TxDOT is looking to widen the freeway to eight lanes across. That’s four lanes of traffic in each direction, expected to stretch all the way to Galveston sometime in 2021.
While it would be nothing short of a miracle to be able to make it to Galveston in less than an hour from anywhere around town, officials like Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff worry the slated projects may encounter some delays: “The facts are there are never enough dollars out there for every project, and we are going to be limited at the state level with what we can do,” Vandergriff said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. “We know we are going to have to address that. Not us. The state of Texas”
Buckle up, Houston.