HOUSTON -- Traffic is about to get worse before it gets better on one Houston highway. A widening project along the I-45 The Gulf Freeway will eventually help a notorious bottleneck there. The four-year, $77 million Texas Department of Transportation project has already started to widen I-45 from six lanes to ten lanes, between Beltway 8 and El Dorado.
Students and families at Lutheran South Academy are about to get a lesson in patience -- the campus sits about a block from the freeway. Shelia Psencik, Head of School, says she is bracing for long term detours and several years of construction. "When this project is over my 12 year old will actually be driving," Psencik said.
TxDOT spokespeople have been touring the area explaining the changes to drivers and local businesses. "Its not a nice bottleneck... people in the Clear Lake area, in the Galveston area, in the surrounding areas will benefit from this," Deidrea Samuels, TxDOT Spokesperson, told us. Crews will also tear down the Dixie Farm Road bridge and put the street at ground level, with a wider I-45 overpass going over it, which will help traffic getting to and from campus.
Work has already started, but school administrators are concerned about how students will be affected once classes are underway again in the fall. Psencik said they will reach out to families in a variety of methods. "Letters, emails diagrams, pamphlets, we're going to do everything we can to make this as smooth as we can for our school families," Psencik said.
The expansion will help make room for more drivers. Today more than 188 thousand cars pass through this part of I-45. In just thirty years, another 100 thousand will, too. The goal is to get through construction now, to help drivers beat the traffic and get through this bottleneck.