the bridge is back

Controversial downtown bridge reopens to drivers after major repairs

Controversial downtown bridge reopens to drivers after major repairs

Houston traffic freeway highway
The crucial downtown link is back. Photo courtesy of ABC13

A critical link for downtown Houston commuters has reopened after closing in 2019 due to dangerous decay. In good news for daily drivers, the Brazos Bridge is back in action, the city announced.

The bridge was shut down in July 2019, as parts were crumbling and in severe disrepair — so dire that the structure saw falling debris. Connecting major Midtown streets to Interstate 69, the bridge is considered a crucial connector by those in the neighborhood.

Significant improvements include a thicker concrete deck and a steel metal deck that the city promises will last some 50 years.

Importantly for locals, the project improves Smith, Bagby, and Holman streets, as they were previously named among the 12 most dangerous intersections for bicyclists and pedestrians. Contractors removed a southbound lane on Smith to create a wider median for cyclists and pedestrians and to shorten the distance to the crosswalk on Smith, according to the city.

Additionally, crews added a wider curb ramp and a concrete walking trail in effort to slow traffic turns from Holman onto Smith.

As the Houston Chronicle notes, city officials debated as to whether to rebuild the bridge, and instead, transform the property into a bikeway. Officials noted that traffic seemed unaffected by Spur 527 losing Brazos Street access, as exits at Travis and Louisiana streets remained.

However, Midtown business leaders and locals pressured the city to rebuild the bridge, the Chron notes.