Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation presented details Feb. 8 on a proposed project to add four managed lanes along a 6.3-mile stretch of I-10 from Voss Road to I-45.

The breakdown

Details on the project were first released as part of a virtual "public meeting" Feb. 6 before an in-person public meeting took place Feb. 8 at TxDOT's Houston offices on Washington Avenue.

Officials say the project is needed to accommodate growing vehicle counts on I-10, citing research by the Texas Transportation Institute that ranked the stretch of I-10 between western Loop 610 and I-45 as the seventh most congested roadway in the state in 2023. Daily vehicle counts on that stretch of I-10 have grown from 273,450 in 2018 to 292,460 in 2023, according to TxDOT information, and are projected to grow to 422,220 by 2038.

TxDOT is also seeking to fill a gap in I-10's managed lane network. Eastbound drivers looking to get to Downtown Houston on I-10's managed lanes are forced to exit at Silber Road and use general purpose lanes, whereas westbound drivers leaving Downtown cannot access managed lanes until roughly around Antoine Drive.

The details

TxDOT partnered with the Houston-Galveston Area Council in 2021 to analyze how different lane configurations would handle projected future traffic volumes. Based on that analysis, officials at the Feb. 8 meeting presented details on two options, as well as what traffic would look like if nothing was done.
  • Alternative 1: Two elevated managed lanes are added in each direction in the center of the corridor, and general purpose lanes are maintained at five lanes in each direction. I-10 would be able to carry an estimated 460,000 vehicles per day. Congestion levels in general purpose lanes would return to existing conditions around 2045, but managed lanes would still see flowing traffic. Westbound and eastbound frontage roads are reconstructed, and a 10-foot-wide shared-use path is built along the westbound frontage road.
  • Alternative 2: Two managed lanes are added in each direction in the center of the corridor at the same height as the general purpose lanes. General purpose lanes are reconstructed, but no new lanes are added. Other elements are similar to Alternative 1.
  • No build option: The number of lanes on I-10 does not change at all, but METRO's rapid bus lanes are still built. I-10 would be able to carry an estimated 380,000 vehicles per day.
Zooming in

Alternative 1 would require TxDOT to acquire about 0.34 acres of property near White Oak Bayou that is currently owned by the Harris County Flood Control District.

However, Alternative 2 would require the acquisition of 12.54 acres north of I-10 along the westbound frontage road. Fifty-two residences and 30 commercial buildings would be displaced between Washington Avenue and T C Jester Boulevard in the Cottage Grove community. TxDOT would also have to acquire 0.53 acres of Cottage Grove Park.

What else

Both alternatives would also entail reconstructing all cross streets at I-10 between Washington Avenue and Heights Boulevard with accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • 5-foot-wide bike lane
  • 7-foot-wide sidewalk
  • 5-foot-wide buffer area between pedestrian realm and vehicle lanes
Both alternatives would involve braided ramps between T C Jester Boulevard and Durham Drive, and between Patterson and Yale streets, meaning exit and entrance ramps cross paths but are physically separated. Ramps are currently placed close together, which project officials said causes safety concerns because drivers have a short amount of time to make lane changes.

Zooming out

TxDOT is looking to advance the managed lanes project at the same time several other projects are being explored along the corridor.
  • TxDOT has another proposal that involves elevating I-10's main lanes between Heights Boulevard and I-45.
  • The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County is working on a METRORapid project to improve public transit between the Northwest Transit Center and the Convention District in Downtown Houston.
  • An element of TxDOT's North Houston Highway Improvement Project involves straightening I-10 and adding express lanes in each direction near the I-45 interchange.
TxDOT officials said the managed lanes project would complement the other three, but its completion could also be done if one of the other projects were to not be constructed.

What they're saying

Cottage Grove resident Matt McDougall, who attended the Feb. 8 meeting, said he was worried about the potential environmental impacts on his community. Neither alternative seemed to take Cottage Grove into account, he said.

"Because the highway is so close to the neighborhood park, any kind of expansion—side-to-side or vertically—is going to expose a lot of people in that park to the dangerous chemicals, the soot, the exhaust, but also the noise pollution as well," he said. "Also, I don't want my neighbors' houses taken away so someone in Katy can get downtown a little faster. That seems a little egregious."

Peter Eccles, director of policy with Link Houston, said he wanted to see the METRORapid project advance without TxDOT adding managed lanes.

"If we need to move more people through this corridor, the METRO project has it for far fewer impacts than this managed lanes project," he said.

What's next

Following the public meetings, TxDOT officials said they are taking comments on the project through Feb. 26. Comments can be emailed to [email protected], submitted online, delivered in-person or sent through the mail. More information about how to comment can be found here.

TxDOT plans to select an alternative later this year after reviewing comments. Construction could begin in early 2028 and last six to eight years.