PEARLAND, TX (KTRK) --The drive to Pearland can take as little as 15 minutes from downtown Houston.
"They hear 'Pearland,' and they think, I've gotta get my passport or something, but it's really not that far," Chef Steve Haug of Grazia Restaurant in Pearland says.
But a wreck changes everything. Chef Haug says his patrons will brave the traffic to enjoy the restaurant's wood-fired pizzas and pasta, but that means fighting backups on 288 which can hit at any time.
"Rush hour starts at about 1 or 2 o'clock these days and goes on until about 7 o'clock at night," Haug says.
It's that congestion that's pushed TxDOT to widen Cullen Boulevard, north of the South Sam Houston Tollway.
"It'll give folks an alternative to get further into Harris County get them to points downtown and Medical Center," Danny Perez of TxDOT explains.
Cullen runs parallel to 288 and provides a north-south route into and out of Houston. By expanding Cullen from two lanes to four lanes, TxDOT hopes Cullen will provide an easy alternate route between Houston and Pearland if there's a wreck on 288. It's part of an effort by TxDOT not only to focus on freeways, but to widen key state roads that can provide relief to and from Houston.
"Those are really important some people don't even use the freeways, they may use FM roads to get where they need to go," Perez said.
It will be a year before the Cullen project is complete. In the meantime, Pearland businesses hope the community's hospitality will keep you coming back -- in spite of the traffic.