Houston drivers, beware: a busy stretch of the I-10 Katy Freeway into downtown will close for the weekend. The closure is due to repairs being made on a bridge struck several times by overheight trucks.
The most recent incident happened Friday when an 18-wheeler lost it's load passing underneath the bridge.
At 8 p.m. Friday, TxDOT crews closed the eastbound lanes of I-10 at Shepherd, along with on-ramps, off-ramps, and connector ramps between I-610 West Loop and downtown.
The closures are expected to last until 5 a.m. Monday.
To get to the other side of downtown, officials are recommending drivers take the I-610 North Loop to I-45 North Freeway or the I-610 South Loop to I-69/U.S. 59 Southwest Freeway.
The closures coincide with short-term repairs to the steel beams on the Houston Avenue bridge over I-10.
TxDOT scheduled them after a truck that was too tall struck the bridge in December 2017, one of ten such incidents at that spot in 2017.
“It’s still under investigation, but it appears that the beams that were struck are similar to the beams that were struck prior,” said Danny Perez, a TxDOT spokesperson, on Friday afternoon of the most recent accident at the bridge.
Perez says many of the drivers involved in those wrecks either don’t get permitted like they’re supposed to or they don’t follow the route they’ve been assigned.
He says TxDOT has put in size detectors along I-10 just outside of Loop 610 to warn inbound drivers with overheight trucks.
“We have a message board along the freeway, so if it does detect an overheight that’s coming in inside 610, it’ll start to flash and say ‘Exit Now’,” said Perez.
The Houston Avenue bridge is 14 feet 3 inches, more than two feet below TxDOT’s current height standard of 16 feet, 6 inches.
However, it was built in 1965 before those standards became the rule. Perez says long-term, TxDOT is planning to replace that bridge as part of a massive highway rebuild planned for downtown.
However, that project is at least five years away, assuming all the funding is available.