Major stretch of Katy Freeway opens

HOUSTON As someone who runs a business along the ever expanding Katy Freeway, Jim Rasco knows all about the price you pay for progress.

He said, "If we had been surviving strictly as retail sales, we would have been out of business."

Three years of constant construction from I-10 at Bingle and Voss to the West Loop has taken its toll, forcing businesses and drivers to make allowances.

Driver Cynthia Calleo explained, "I avoided the Katy Freeway if at all possible for pretty much that length of time, and would use other routes, back roads and stuff."

Now there's no need to. The eastbound main lanes are wide open all the way into downtown for the first time in more than 36 months.

"This gives us four general purpose lanes from that area and as many up to eight with the auxiliary lanes for the entrance and exit ramps and the direct connecting ramps to 610," said Karen Othon with the Texas Department of Transportation.

That's great news, especially on a stretch of highway where stop and go traffic has been the norm for so long.

Business owner Mallika Koirale said, "We feel good because now we can run our business easily and smoothly."

Having this long stretch of roadway open paves the way for the final completion of the entire project slated for October 2008, a grand total of 23 miles. To see traffic flowing smoothly, Rasco says the sacrifices have been well worth it.

"It's exciting," he said. "It's nice to know we're making progress."

All of the business owners we talked to said TxDOT did a good job of working with the businesses.

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