I-45 HOV lanes to open in September

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.


Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar spoke to members of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce on May 27 about what the state's post-pandemic economic turnaround might look like. (Screenshot of May 27 virtual luncheon)
Texas comptroller predicts slow, steady economic turnaround post-pandemic

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state entered the era of the coronavirus in a healthy financial situation, which bodes well for the future as reopening continues, but that Texans are not out of the woods yet.

Nursing facilities across Texas will be able to apply for federal funds to purchase devices to connect residents to friends and family. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces $3.6 million project to connect nursing home residents to families

Gov. Greg Abbott announced May 27 that $3.6 million will be provided to nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams and headphones to connect residents with family members.

The industry has had to shift to more virtual open houses, which has brought both advantages and disadvantages. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County real estate market takes hit in April; real estate industry goes virtual

Between May 5-11, the Greater Houston area had 241 virtual open houses that drew 1,330 attendees.

Voters are encouraged to bring their own equipment in order to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus.(Graphic by Matthew T. Mills /Community Impact Newspaper)
State of Texas releases voter health checklist for polling stations in June and July

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs released a checklist May 26 for voters to follow to help prevent the spread of coronavirus at polls.

Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack announced his plan to give $500 stimulus checks to homeowners. (Courtesy James Noack)
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack proposes plan for $65 million return through CARES Act

A plan will be submitted for Montgomery County property owners to be able to apply for a $500 stimulus check later this summer.

Montgomery City Council met virtually May 26. (Community Impact staff)
Montgomery may see less than 30% drop in sales tax revenue due to coronavirus, city official says

City Administrator Richard Tramm briefly spoke about the pandemic's effects on the city's budget.

Owners Bradley Bailey and Makenzie Rankin will open Galavant's Coffee in June. (Courtesy Galavant's Coffee)
Galavant's Coffee cart coming to downtown Conroe

The business is also open to private events and weddings.

On May 27, SpaceX will launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. This marks the first time in nearly a decade U.S. astronauts have launched from the U.S. (Courtesy NASA Television)
UPDATED: Here's how to watch the historic May 30 SpaceX rocket launch

For the first time since 2011, NASA astronauts are launching from U.S. soil to space.

Montgomery County commissioners met May 26 in Conroe. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Here’s how Montgomery County will distribute Round 1 CARES Act funding

Round 2 is half the amount of Round 1 and will be used for food distributions and for the elderly and children. The allocation method for Round 3 has not yet been determined .

Starting May 29, water parks will be able to open up to 25% capacity. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Abbott issues proclamation allowing water parks to open

Starting Friday, May 29, water parks will be allowed to open but must limit guests to 25% of their normal operating capacity.

The Montgomery County Public Health District reported one death related to COVID-19 along with 30 new recoveries from the disease May 26. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County reports 1 coronavirus-related death, 30 recoveries since May 22

The county's number of active cases, 465, is growing closer to the total number of recoveries at 424.