League City, TxDOT officials review Bay Area transportation projects

TxDOT, League City transportation projects, Let's Talk Traffic town hall
TxDOT engineer Jamal Elahi speaks before League City residents Nov. 12 about area transportation projects. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

TxDOT engineer Jamal Elahi speaks before League City residents Nov. 12 about area transportation projects. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

A slew of area transportation projects are in the works or pending, and League City and Texas Department of Transportation officials teamed up Nov. 12 to inform residents of the construction they can expect over the next several years.

TxDOT engineer Jamal Elahi spoke mostly about the widening of I-45 that bisects League City and runs all the way to Galveston, and Hwy. 146 that moves through Seabrook and Kemah.

Widening I-45 between NASA Parkway and FM 518 is a $99 million project that will complete in spring 2022. Work from Hwy. 96 to FM 517 will cost $122 million and be complete in late 2021. Widening I-45 between FM 517 and FM 1764 will complete in fall 2023 and will cost $231 million, Elahi said.

In January, crews will begin widening I-45 from FM 1764 to FM 519. The work will take nearly five years and cost $142 million. When complete, I-45 will be widened from six to eight lanes from Houston to Galveston, Elahi said.

Hwy. 146 work will widen the road from four to up to 12 main lanes, including a 2.4-mile express bridge that will run along the west side of the existing bridge over Clear Creek. When complete, the widened road will improve traffic flow for emergency evacuation, freight and tourism and become a connection to the Grand Parkway, Elahi said.

So far, crews have completed about 20% of the work to create new bridge foundations. The Hwy. 146 northbound lane widening is about halfway done, and southbound widening and express bridge construction started earlier than expected, Elahi said.

Other TxDOT projects include widening FM 517 between I-45 and Hwy. 35 to a four-lane divided road. In 2022, TxDOT will also extend Landing Boulevard north of FM 518 to connect to I-45, Elahi said.

TxDOT is also pushing for an initiative to reduce the number of deaths on Texas highways. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last day without any fatalities on Texas highways. Since that day, at least one person has died every day driving on state highways for a total of 67,000 deaths in 19 years, Elahi said.

“So we want to end the streak,” he said. “We are on the road to zero ... by 2050.”

League City specifically has several projects in the works. In May, voters overwhelmingly approved a $72 million bond to work on traffic issues.

The city has planned several improvements along Hwy. 96, or League City Parkway, through 2021, including new traffic signals, constructing additional turn lanes, intersection redesigns and more. The highway is one of League City’s most-traveled east-west corridors, said Angie Steelman, budget and project management director.

According to Steelman, city projects include:

  • widening Grissom Road between Abigail Lane and NASA Parkway in 2021

  • constructing a new I-45 frontage road to Hobbs Road in 2024

  • widening and improving Butler and Turner roads next year

  • constructing Ervin Street where the new Bay Colony Park will be

  • reconstructing Calder Road from Ervin Street to Cross Colony Drive next year

  • improving Walker Street

  • improving the intersection of Hwy. 3 and FM 518 in 2021

About 40% of residents indicated in a survey last year that fixing traffic problems should be the city’s top priority. No other concern, including addressing flooding, came near that percentage.

“Traffic is our No. 1 issue,” City Manager John Baumgartner said.

The League City Transportation Committee will begin hosting quarterly public meetings next year to hear from residents about potential traffic projects. The committee’s first meeting is Jan. 26, said Sarah Greer Osborne, director of communications and media relations.
By Jake Magee

Editor, Bay Area & Pearland/Friendswood

Jake has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper. Today, he covers everything from aerospace to transportation to flood mitigation.