TxDOT embarks on Phase 2 of I-45 Planning and Environmental Linkage Study, seeks public input

The North Houston Association hosted a luncheon March 19 to update the public on TxDOT's I-45 PEL study.

The North Houston Association hosted a luncheon March 19 to update the public on TxDOT's I-45 PEL study.

Having wrapped up Phase 1 of its Planning and Environmental Linkage Study on I-45 N. last summer, the Texas Department of Transportation is in the midst of Phase 2, during which TxDOT officials will continue to seek public input through summer 2020.

TxDOT launched a PEL study on the I-45 corridor between Beltway 8 N. in Spring and S. Loop 336 in Conroe in spring 2017 to identify future corridor needs based on existing road conditions, population growth projections and input from the public.

“A PEL study puts public engagement, public involvement, public coordination first when we look to determine the best possible solutions for the area,” TxDOT Commissioner Laura Ryan said during a North Houston Association luncheon March 19. “Working with the community, we will develop ideas and alternatives to support the vision that we have and that the community has for the corridor [by] identifying issues and concerns early, which will save us time and mean few delays later in the process.”

Ryan added anticipated population growth is one of the biggest concerns driving the study. As of January 2018, Harris County has a population of 4.6 million, and Montgomery County has a population of 566,000, according to the Texas Demographics Center. Those numbers are expected to increase by 46 percent and 141 percent, respectively, by 2045—meaning an additional 2.5 million people for the area.

“One of the major corridors in this area is I-45,” Ryan said. “And I-45 North needs some improvements. With more than 200,000 vehicles on that portion of the interstate daily, it’s a legitimate, valid observation.”

In addition to accommodating growth, Ryan said safety is another key factor that is being considered throughout the PEL process. Between 2012-16, 11,992 total crashes occurred on the I-45 main lanes, 228 of which resulted in a fatality or incapacitating injury.

“Every day for the past 18 years, since Nov. 7, 2000, someone has died in a traffic crash in Texas on our roads,” she said. “As we look to the future, we don’t just want to move more people and goods faster along this corridor, we also want to ensure that everyone is safe as well.”

Phase 1, which included data collection, analysis of existing conditions, and identification of corridor issues and concerns to identify a vision for the corridor with community input, was completed in summer 2018.

TxDOT Houston District Engineer Quincy Allen said during Phase 1, TxDOT had 105 individuals attend three community meetings to give input on the study. In addition to safety and growth accommodation, some of the corridor concerns raised by residents included flooding, environmental impacts, improved intersection configuration and enhanced multimodal options, such as bidirectional high-occupancy vehicle lanes and improved system connectivity with more direct connector ramps.

Phase 2, now underway, includes the development and screening of conceptual ideas and alternatives that support the corridor vision and consideration of viable alternatives. It will conclude with a presentation of PEL findings. Phase 2 is expected to wrap up by summer 2020.

TxDOT Director of Project Development Pat Henry confirmed Phase 2 will include additional public meetings; however, exact meeting dates had not been announced as of March 20.

“We need help getting the word out on how important public involvement in these meetings was and [will be] in this phase coming up,” Allen said. “We want to hear from the public—not just stakeholders but ordinary citizens. There’s no idea that we don’t want to hear. We’re going to take the data and input and make this project better.”

For more information on the I-45 PEL study, click here. To give input on the project, call the TxDOT Houston District Office at 713-802-5076 and reference project number 0912-00-536, or click here.
By Hannah Zedaker
Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. In January 2019, she was promoted to serve as the editor of the Spring/Klein edition where she covers Spring ISD and Harris County Commissioners Court, in addition to business, development and transportation news.


MOST RECENT

Montgomery County's COVID-19 recoveries sit at 8,403, according to the county health department. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
See Montgomery County's weekly COVID-19 case count for Oct. 13-19

The county has made progress on its backlog of cases initially reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services by health care providers.

Whitewater Express Car Wash will open its 18th location in late October in Porter. (Courtesy Whitewater Express Car Wash)
Whitewater Express Car Wash to open in Porter

The Porter location will be the franchise's 18th.

Houston police
Houston will spend $4.1 million from CARES Act to rein in rising crime rate

Violent crime is up 11% in the city of Houston and there are six hot spots throughout the city that are seeing the most violent crime numbers.

Voters wait in line at a Cy-Fair polling location Oct. 16. (Danica Lloyd/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County ballot totals approach 630,000 in first six days of early voting

Ballot counts have averaged about 100,000 daily. Twelve days of early voting remain before the Nov. 3 general election.

A total of 10 polling places are now open throughout the county for early voting. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 76,000 ballots cast in Montgomery County through first 5 days of early voting

While the total outpaces the count through the fifth day of early voting from previous general elections, the county's voter turnout percentage so far is lower than in 2012 and 2016.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and faith leaders
Houston coronavirus updates: Positivity rate hits 5%, places of worship get guidance for reopening

Churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship are recommend to limit gatherings to 25%.

Amazon's new sorting center is now open at 22525 Clay Road, Katy. The 800,000-square-foot building opened Oct. 9. (Courtesy Amazon.com Inc.)
Amazon center in Katy to bring 3K jobs and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

An election official directs a car to a spot at the Humble Civic Center's drive-thru voting location. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Drive-thru voting locations in Harris County see greater numbers than in-person, despite challenges

More than 42,000 residents in Harris County have used the drive-thru centers so far in early voting.

The outlet mall is located in Cypress. (Courtesy Houston Premium Outlets)
Outlet mall in Cy-Fair opens 3 new stores and more top Houston-area news

Read the most popular news form the past week from our Houston coverage area.