The Texas Department of Transportation has begun construction for a new highway along Spur 5 which will connect Houston's Gulf Freeway and 610 South Loop.
While the project will begin as a 3.4 mile stretch of roadway, planners hope to eventually extend the path all the way to Beltway 8 as an alternate to the Pearland area.
Eliza Paul is a district engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation and explains the vision behind the plan.
"If 45 is crowded, I can divert here from 610 and take [the new road] and this is an alternate way for me to go into downtown," she said.
City Council Member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz said the project will connect communities in the city and help Houstonians gain better access to the central business district.
"The SH 35 Project symbolizes more than just a transportation solution; it signifies a bridge, access to education," Evans-Shabazz said. "We're right here by the University of Houston, with the Texas Southern University right down the street."
The Greater Houston area is home to nearly 7 million people with projected growth of over 80% by 2050 according to TxDOT officials. The Spur 5 project is part of the Texas Clear Lanes program, which has a goal to improve overall traffic flow particularly during Hurricane evacuations.
A study from the American Economic Association concluded increased provision of roads or public transit is unlikely to relieve congestion because of the Fundamental Law of Road Congestion. KUT summarized the law as the more lanes you build, the more cars you attract.
"The commission's policy from day one has been to execute, execute, execute," TxDOT's commissioner Robert Vaughn said. "To focus on the most effective and efficient ways to move projects forward, both rural and urban, and to use taxpayers dollars to get the roads built where they're needed and when they're needed."
TXDOT officials project the project to be completed by 2026.