Commuters can expect lane closures on I-45 during the coming weeks as construction crews finish installing signs and striping for two new High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on the interstate.
The $2.6 million HOV lanes will span 17.6 miles between South Loop 336 in Conroe and FM 1960 in north Harris County. Crews will create a dedicated lane in each direction for drivers traveling with at least one passenger onboard. The lanes will be open 24-7, free of charge, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
“We don’t really have something to compare it to,” said Adam Galland, TxDOT assistant engineer with the Montgomery area office. “We are going to learn a lot about how much this relieves congestion and traffic because I can’t think of one time when 17 miles of HOV lanes have been opened on a major interstate in that way in Houston.”
TxDOT expects the project to be completed in September and will open the lanes in two phases—the southbound lane will open a couple of weeks before the northbound lane, spokesperson Deidrea George said. The HOV lanes’ exact opening dates are not available because construction may be paused during inclement weather, she said.
Once complete, drivers will be able to enter and exit the lanes at designated areas. Unlike the existing HOV lane spanning from FM 1960 in to Houston, the new lane will not have physical barriers and will be open in both directions at all times. The existing lane to the south of FM 1960—operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County—is a single lane that changes direction at different times of the day.
While the majority of construction is complete, crews will conduct nighttime lane closures to finish the remainder of the project, Galland said. Lane closures are limited to nighttime only. Because crews need to adjust the median throughout portions of the interstate, the I-45 main lanes will also be affected by the project.
“There are a few locations where we are shifting the entire medians over,” Galland said. “They have to stripe all the way across the main lanes because they have to move [all of the lanes]over. Once you start you have to complete it because otherwise you have lanes that don’t match up with each other.”
For information about I-45 lane closures, visit www.houstontranstar.org.