As Montgomery and northern Harris counties continue to grow, officials with the Texas Department of Transportation are looking to keep pace with traffic flow by planning for future projects along the Interstate 45 corridor.
TxDOT is conducting a study in the two counties to identify ‘existing and projected transportation’ from Beltway 8 to Loop 336 South in Conroe and are currently in the first phase of the process that began in spring 2017. At a meeting Wednesday night at Oak Ridge High School, officials provided an update on the study to area residents and business owners.
The goal of the study is to ‘address concerns and needs for improvements with traffic, safety, and future growth’ and can help with decision making and ‘streamline future projects along’ (I-45.)
TxDOT views these meetings as a forum for public discussion and prioritization of transportation related issues and safety concerns.
“I’m here to assess what the current options are,” said Lela Shepherd, regulatory compliance coordinator for the Harris County Flood Control District. “Particularly as they pertain to the southern portion of the project that is within Harris County, so closer to the Spring area, to find out if there are any partnership opportunities (with TxDOT) as they decide what those alternatives are going to be and realize what the environmental impacts are going to be and how they have to address those.”
According to TxDOT’s public outreach findings in 2018, 93 percent of people believe that the reduction of congestion is vital to ‘promoting economic development’ and 31 percent of people regularly use HOV lanes.
Traffic volume is expected to grow approximately 40 percent by 2045 along I-45 North according to their study.
Kristin Eickelberg lives in the area and had concerns about traffic congestion and came to the public meeting seeking more information.
“I drive on I-45 all the time and its congested I wanted to find out information, what they’re trying to do about it. I am glad to see there are so many different options, they’re choices of things that can work I would like to see, I’m going to have to do more research to find out how feasible some of these things are,” Eickelberg said.
Some of the alternatives for the corridor include rehabilitation, improvement of east-west connections, frontage road improvements, the use of technology, constructing new interchanges and improving connectivity among the roadway network.
“I’ve been on numerous planning committees for streets and highways for a number of years and it goes all the way back to 2007. I’ve seen all of these alternatives before,” said Garry Watts, the former mayor of Shenandoah.
In the study, TxDOT has found that areas for concern are inadequate mobility and safety issues including high crash rates, and poor system connectivity. According to the study, TxDOT is working to improve connectivity and accessibility, travel-time reliability and reduce severity of crashes and how often they happen.