Transportation

Officials Say Freeway Widening Project Is Vital To Economic Development

I-45 widening project expected to be finished in 2017.

It’s going to be another long, hot summer on the Gulf Freeway as crews continue work on a major widening project. I-45 commuters have been dodging construction since the work began in 2011.

The project is being done in two segments. There’s the segment between Beltway 8 and FM 2351, which includes the busy intersection at Dixie Farm Road. The second segment runs south to Medical Center Drive.

The work includes two new lanes in each direction. TxDOT’s Deidrea Samuels says that will expand the freeway from six main lanes to ten.

“We’re also going to add an additional frontage road lane in each direction. One of the things we’re also doing is replacing four overpasses in that area.”

One of the communities along the route is the City of Webster, midway between Houston and Galveston. The community has around 11,000 people but because of its location it’s now seeing major business growth.

Webster Economic Development Director Betsy Giusto says they’re expecting about 375,000 new square feet of business this year, and that’s not counting a new medical center.

“We are inundated with inquiries and we have great prospects on the horizon.”

About a quarter of a million vehicles vehicles pass through Webster on I-45 every weekday, and Giusto says businesses are looking to capture that traffic.

“Baybrook Mall has long been the number one suburban mall in the entire Houston metropolitan statistical area. We have a lot of businesses that are number one within their entire portfolio.”

The two freeway projects have a combined price tag of about $172 million dollars, and the work is being funded with a mix of state and federal money. Construction is expected to be finished by spring of 2017.

 

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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