I-45 bridge replacement project north of Tiki Island no longer happening early

ByDaniel Weeks, Jake Magee Community Impact Newspaper logo
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
I-45 bridge replacement project no longer happening early
The Texas Department of Transportation will now replace an I-45 bridge north of Tiki Island after it was found in need of repair next year or later.

The Texas Department of Transportation in early May announced it would expedite a project to replace an I-45 bridge north of Tiki Island after it was found in need of repair.

That is no longer the case. The bridge will be replaced next year or later, as originally planned.

Around early May, TxDOT began limiting the weight of vehicles allowed to pass over the I-45 northbound bridge at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad line just north of Tiki Island and Galveston Island. For a few weeks, the weight was limited to 80,000 pounds, meaning vehicles heavier than a fully-loaded semitrailer truck were not permitted to use the bridge, according to an email from TxDOT Public Information Officer Danny Perez.

"This restriction didn't include heavy trucks carrying standard cargo," he said. The bridge in question was scheduled for demolition and reconstruction in 2023 as part of TxDOT's ongoing I-45 widening project. The widening between FM 1764 and Galveston Island, which is partially already under construction and estimated to cost at least $434 million, is not expected to be completed for several more years.

However, during a routine bridge inspection, TxDOT learned the bridge required maintenance and a variety of repairs for overweight vehicles to continue to use it.

"Our crews regularly check our roads and structures above scheduled inspections. Many times, this is when issues such as potholes or other deficiencies are found," Perez said.

Instead of repairing the bridge, TxDOT announced it would expedite the replacement of the bridge. TxDOT also began working to provide a bypass route that would take overweight vehicles off the main lanes of I-45. Perez said in early May it would take time to determine if the route would be suitable for overweight vehicles and then implement it.

To construct the new bridge, TxDOT planned to move northbound traffic onto the southbound bridge and have two-way traffic on it until the new northbound bridge could be built.

These ideas were never implemented. Instead, TxDOT's plans have changed.

According to a May 13 TxDOT news release, TxDOT has repaired the bridge to allow for overweight vehicles. Now, the three main lanes will remain open in each direction, and overweight vehicles will continue to be able to use the northbound main lanes, according to the release.

"The bridge is safe for passage," Perez said. "We will, of course, eventually demolish the bridge and construct a new one with the current I-45 project in this area."

TxDOT's contractor will continue construction on the future I-45 northbound frontage road bridge, and it will eventually be used as a temporary northbound route during the future construction of the new northbound I-45 main lane bridge, according to the release.

"We will continue to work to minimize the impacts on the traveling public and the communities along the I-45 corridor," the release from TxDOT reads. "It is our goal to expedite all I-45 projects in Galveston County and have them completed as quickly as possible."

Upcoming projects

Bay Area Boulevard rehabilitation

Houston Public Works began rehabilitating Bay Area Boulevard on May 31 after a two-week delay due to contractor staffing issues. The project entails replacing concrete panels from Space Center Boulevard to Graduate Drive. The project may require a one-lane closure, but two-lane traffic will be maintained.

Timeline: May 31-July 12

Cost: $800,000

Funding source: Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County

League City Parkway traffic improvements

League City is continuing a traffic systems improvements project for League City Parkway. Supply chain issues have continued to delay updating traffic signals at the Landing Boulevard, Magnolia Meadow Lane and Bay Area Boulevard intersections, city officials said.

Timeline: spring 2022-spring 2023

Cost: $1.89 million

Funding source: League City