Closing two of the most congested freeways in the state of Texas — at the same time — almost seems a cruel joke. But that’s just what’s in store for Houston drivers starting on Friday, January 31.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will close all mainlanes of the I-610 West Loop at I-69 Southwest Freeway in both directions for multiple weekends starting the weekend of January 31 to hang bridge beams and other related work for a new connector ramp.
The closures will start Friday, January 31 at 9 pm and last until Monday, February 3 at 5 am. Crews will close all I-610 West Loop northbound and southbound mainlanes at I-69 Southwest Freeway, according to TxDOT.
Crews will again close the I-610 West Loop mainlanes at I-69 Southwest Freeway in both directions on the weekends of February 7 through February 10, February 14 through February 17, and February 21 through February 24. Crews will continue work on the I-610 West Loop northbound connector ramp to I-69 Southwest Freeway southbound as part of the I-610/I-69 interchange project.
Considering that nearly 300,000 drivers utilize the area on a given day (according to TxDOT 2018 estimates), the closure might seem like a traffic nightmare. But TxDOT spokesperson Danny Perez tells CultureMap that it is necessary for safety: “Thus far we've done a lot of the surrounding work without affecting the mainlanes. To build up the connector ramp, we have to close for the safety of the traveling public.”
Perez adds the contractors must be able to work safely without traffic flowing underneath: a simple dropped tool or piece of equipment could be catastrophic.
TxDOT recommends that drivers seek alternate routes during the closures. Motorists traveling northbound on I-610 West Loop northbound will detour to I-610 frontage road to re-enter the mainlanes of I-610 northbound.
Motorists traveling southbound on I-610 West Loop will detour to I-69 southbound, exit at Chimney Rock, U-turn at Chimney Rock to reach the I-69 northbound mainlanes, and take the direct connector from I-69 northbound to I-610 southbound.
As previously reported, the I-610/ I-69 interchange is a major connection point of two of the most congested highways in the state of Texas. The $259 million project will significantly enhance safety and improve mobility by widening the connector ramps to two lanes, increasing sight distances, and providing remedies to eliminate weaving.
The project has incentives and disincentives to encourage the contractor to complete various phases sooner than anticipated. “If the contractor finishes work early, we can open early,” Perez adds, offering a glimmer of hope.