The five-year project to widen Hwy. 146 between Red Bluff Road and Hwy. 96 is set to start Feb. 13, and Seabrook is ready, Mayor Thom Kolupski said at a Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon Jan. 30.
By 2045, the Houston area will have 61 percent more residents, 50 percent more jobs and 61 percent more vehicles, said Melody Galland, a Texas Department of Transportation engineer. Discussions about widening Hwy. 146 to accommodate that increase have been on Seabrook’s radar since the late 1990s.
“Today, it’s a reality,” Kolupski said. “The city of Seabrook is ready. We’ve planned on this for a long time.”
Dozens of Seabrook businesses have had to relocate or permanently close over the past several months to make way for the project that will add a four-lane express bridge along the west side of the existing Hwy. 146 bridge, which will be widened to six lanes. Kolupski said he was “saddened” by the loss of business but that businesses will be drawn to the city as the project gets underway.
“We’re prepared for an influx. We’ve had a lot of interest in businesses coming to the corridor,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a very nice growth over the next few years. It may be slow right now, but we are seeing a lot of interest.”
The city plans to upgrade its aesthetics to accommodate the project and draw people in. For instance, traffic signal poles will be painted white to look like sailboat masts, Kolupski said.
Kolupski said despite the headaches and challenges the project will cause, the city will benefit.
“We will get through it,” he said. “I’m pleased to stand before you today and say the opportunities that are going to arise through this project are going to be great.”
Phase 1 of the project, which will take 18 months, includes widening the northbound side of the existing bridge, adding a 14-foot-wide protected bikeway and constructing a new two-lane northbound frontage road. Phase 2 will take two years and includes widening the southbound side of the bridge, constructing a new two-lane southbound frontage road and starting the construction of the express lane bridges, Galland said.
Phase 3, which lasts a year, includes widening the main lanes leading up to the bridge, constructing the Repsdorph Road overpass and more work on the express lane bridges. The project will end with Phase 4, a six-month project to finish the express lane bridges and miscellaneous work, Galland said.