The future of Houston traffic: Houston's freeway project of a lifetime

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- TxDOT has a plan to remove the backups on I-45 in downtown Houston by doing the seemingly unimaginable - moving the freeway.

"We needed more capacity, we needed to be able to move traffic better, and the Pierce Elevated in that corridor was just not enough room," TxDOT District Engineer Quincy Allen said.

From SkyEye, you can see the choke points TxDOT is trying to eliminate. Instead of having I-45 split off onto the Pierce Elevated, it will continue running north alongside Highway 59.

This will create a less tangled, less accident-prone route through downtown to accommodate Houston's booming commuter population.

"In the Houston district, we are a six county region, 6,000 square miles, six million people and our six million customers have five million cars," Allen said.

That's today, but engineers are looking ahead and modeling the system to meet the demands of traffic in 2040.

"It's a big project, because we have a big need, big road, big number of customers," said Allen.

Another big goal of the project is to create enough room to increase speeds, but with goals comes a big price tag. It's more than $1 billion. Much of the funding will come from the federal government, state voter-approved Propositions 1 and 7 and recent allocations from Texas Transportation Commission.

The funding has become more of a reality and that has got us excited.

Open greenspace over parts of Highway 59 and I-45 is not funded, but it is still part of the plan, if other public or private entities want to foot the bill.

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