The Texas Department of Transportation unveiled a possible new look for I-45 at a Sept. 26 public meeting. The new design would create elevated high-occupancy vehicle lanes and expanded intersection options from the Grand Parkway to Loop 336 in Conroe.

How we got here

TxDOT initiated a Planning and Environmental Linkages study in 2017 to identify future solutions to the traffic congestion and flow on I-45. After several years of studying and public meetings, the study created several long- and short-term solutions to begin addressing the corridor.

The details

Based on TxDOT study findings and public comment, a plan to build elevated managed lanes with access to major frontage roads was identified as the most viable and preferred solution to I-45 congestion. The plan would also turn intersections that access I-45 into diverging diamond intersections, which would elevate frontage road traffic over major intersections.

In the short term, TxDOT is also looking at potential shared-use pathways along the frontage roads to allow more space for biking and pedestrian travel through intersections and between businesses on frontage roads.

What they’re saying

“We’re hoping that this is going to help the entire community with ... increasing mobility issues, ... and from what I’ve seen so far it’s a good plan. Not a lot of people are aware of it,” Shenandoah Mayor John Escoto said

“We get a lot of our customers just from driving by, seeing the signs, so my concern is ... if they expand, we’re right up against the frontage road so parking will disappear, but it’s a quite a ways out [before that happens],” said Andy Armstrong, a business owner on I-45.

What next

TxDOT Public Information Officer Bambi Hall said the projects will likely not see construction start for another five to 10 years, and they still have to go through funding requests with the state before TxDOT officially starts work on the project.

Lane elevations are on the 20-year plan for development by TxDOT; however, projects such as intersection remodeling and shared-use path creation could begin within the next five to 10 years, according to materials at the meeting.

Citizens are still able to comment on the project through Oct. 13, at which point TxDOT will consider any potential concerns and move forward with design and construction.