Elected officials and Texas Department of Transportation workers met for a ceremonial groundbreaking near Uptown on Monday for the massive I-59/610 interchange reconstruction project.
The 59-West Loop interchange has the distinction of being the most congested piece of highway in Texas.
Utilities work near the interchange reconstruction project has already started but construction will begin in February 2018. It is expected to continue for approximately six years.
One-lane connectors to the West Loop will become two-lane connectors. Shoulders will be added to the West Loop mainland bridge, vertical clearances will be increased, detention ponds will be added and major weaving in the roads will be eliminated.
The purpose of the project is to improve safety and mobility and reduce congestion.
“Sometimes when you’re improving things you have to endure the inconvenience,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “I’m not going to say to people, ‘you’re not going to experience any headaches’ or ‘you’re not going to get frustrated and say how long is this project going to take.’”
Officials say in the next 35 years Houston will be home to more than 14-million residents if the city’s population growth stays on track.
They say Houston’s current population has already outgrown the interchange which will continue to get worse until it is addressed.
Mayor Turner said that if the city were ever forced to evacuate, the 59/610 interchange could be a disaster for citizens trying to flee the city quickly.
“When it’s done we’ll all be much much better than it is right now," said Turner.