Gulf Freeway will be widened, but when?
Interstate 45 will eventually be widened by two lanes between League City and Texas City, but the Texas Department of Transportation is unsure when it will have funding for the $228 million project.
The planned 7.5-mile expansion will add a lane in each direction of the interstate from FM 518 to FM 1764, increasing each side to four lanes, said Roger Gonzalez, a TxDOT project manager.
The roadway's shoulders will also be widened, and the existing two-lane frontage roads and ramps will be reconfigured as well.
The proposal has been in the works for 10 years and will probably take two to three years to build, Gonzalez said. And while there is no timeline for it, he said the expansion will happen because it will accommodate future growth and help with hurricane evacuations.
We are preparing the project and going through the process so that when funding becomes available, it will be ready for construction," Gonzalez said.
Right now TxDOT is also awaiting the Federal Highway Administration's approval of the project's environmental study, which could take six months to a year, he said.
Once that happens, TxDOT will begin acquiring about 11 acres of right-of-way needed for construction. That right-of-way will be 10 feet on each side of I-45 from FM 518 to Hughes Road.
The acquisition will not displace any businesses, but some could lose green space and parking spots, Gonzalez said.
Last week, TxDOT held an open house and public hearing in League City about widening Interstate 45. Four people spoke during the public hearing, Gonzalez said.
Among those was Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters, who supports the project but has concerns about business owners losing property for right-of-way.
A lot of them don't have a lot of land to spare," Masters said.
Masters said she also worries that TxDOT might want to acquire even more right-of-way in the future. She believes that a combination of widening I-45, commuter rail, and possible bus service by METRO would reduce the freeway's traffic congestion caused by those in Galveston County who commute to Houston.
I just don't want them to do this and then in a few years they're working on it again," Masters said of TxDOT. Just consider all the facets out there that could affect this project."
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