The Texas Department of Transportation held a public meeting March 8 at Oak Ridge High School’s 9th Grade Campus to update local residents on plans for the I-45 Planning & Environmental Linkage Study.
The traffic study covers the area along I-45 from Beltway 8 to Loop 336 in Conroe, which could take up to three years to complete. The road interchange is severely overcapacity, which must be addressed by TxDOT and Montgomery County with short- and long-term solutions, according to the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s South Montgomery County Mobility Study, completed in September 2015.
Phase 1 of the study, which includes data collection, analyzing existing conditions and determining corridor needs, will end by mid-2018. Phase 2 of the study will start in fall 2018 and end in summer 2020. Officials said it will include developing and screening conceptual ideas and alternatives that support the corridor vision as well as presenting the study’s findings
At Thursday’s meeting, residents were able to learn what the study provides and what benefits come out of it, such as fewer delays in project implementation and information for use in project phases. Residents were also able to give feedback on problems areas they identify on I-45, as well as give their top goals for the study, which included reducing congestion and improving safety.
If building solutions are identified, future plans could be an environmental review process, design and land acquisition, and then building the proposed improvements.
While TxDOT officials have only just begun the I-45 PEL Study process, the next step will be to consider all reasonable solutions and complete an analysis. Public meetings on the study will continue to be held in the future to update residents.