HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- TxDOT says they are now ready to phase the opening of I-10 along the San Jacinto bridge after several barges crashed into it last week.
TxDOT opened two eastbound lanes Tuesday night, and two westbound lanes Wednesday morning.
"We are pleased to have validated information that the eastbound bridge was unaffected by the barge hits and anticipate opening the eastbound bridge to two-way traffic within the next 24 hours," said Houston District Engineer Quincy Allen on Tuesday.
The bridge has been shut down since Friday, when several loose barges hit the bridge, damaging it during the height of the flooding from Imelda.
Divers and state engineer teams inspected the bridge Monday, confirming damage to several support columns on the westbound span of the double bridge.
The plan, according to TxDOT spokesperson Danny Perez, is for the eastbound side of the double bridge to be converted to two-way traffic until lanes are also reopened on the westbound side. Barricades have to be installed to separate traffic lanes, and re-striping will be required to direct traffic at switch-over points.
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Perez said law enforcement from the sheriff's office and local agencies is being added to direct traffic along highly congested alternate routes, including Hwy 90, Hwy 146, and other major thoroughfares in the interim. He also said traffic signals may be re-timed to reduce waiting time at lights.
The closure has created a mix of 18-wheelers and cars on Crosby Lynchburg Road, and what would have been short trips have turned into long waits.
"It's usually a 10-minute drive to Channelview," said Butch Henderson from his Crosby home. "It took me an hour and 20 minutes and that was (Sunday) afternoon."
RELATED: Barge crash at I-10 bridge leaves residents stuck at home
It follows a similar closure in the past few years, again because of barges that tore loose during floods.
"You would think they wouldn't allow barges on the north side of the bridge by now," said Henderson. "I'm not saying anything that other people haven't said before."
SEE ALSO: I-10 traffic jams continue after barge crash