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TxDOT Celebrates Completion of First Texas Clear Lanes Project in Houston Area

HOUSTON, TX — The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) was joined by Texas Transportation Commission Chairman J. Bruce Bugg, Jr., local elected officials, community leaders, and TxDOT staff to celebrate the completion of the Houston District’s first Texas Clear Lanes project at Interstate 45 from the NASA 1 Bypass to Farm to Market Road 518. The event was held at Crafty Crab Seafood restaurant in League City. Also known as the Gulf Freeway, I-45 launched Houston into the freeway era nearly 75 years ago, on September 30, 1948.

The project began in May 2017 and was completed by Williams Brothers Construction for $99.8 million. Improvements included widening I-45 to 10 main lanes, adding two three-lane frontage roads and access into two HOV diamond lanes, improving traffic signals on FM 518 at the Hobbs Road/Lafayette Lane intersection, and restriping and signing. The project also included reversing and braiding the northbound entrance and exit ramps to cross over each other, widening the northbound exit ramp to two lanes, lengthening the Clear Creek Bridge frontage roads, sidewalk and bicycle accommodations, and the construction of detention ponds.

“This project made numerous improvements to I-45 from NASA Road 1 to FM 518 in Harris and Galveston counties,” Bugg said. “Clearing our most congested roadways and keeping Texans and — in this particular corridor — our freight industry moving more efficiently and safely is exactly why the Texas Clears Lanes Program was created.”

The average daily traffic on the project’s 3.3-mile segment is over 148,000 vehicles per day. In addition, it is designated I-45 as an element of the Highway Primary Freight Network by the Federal Highway Administration. A 2015 study detailed that of the top 100 freight bottlenecks in the nation, five were located on I‐45. And across the entire Interstate Highway System, I-45 had more freight bottlenecks per mile than any other facility in the nation. The completion of this project will provide much-needed relief and have an equal impact on commerce and the five cities that make up Bay Area Houston across Harris and Galveston counties.

“This is a major milestone for the Houston District, and we are thrilled to deliver our first Texas Clear Lanes project,” said District Engineer Eliza Paul. “With the population boom in this area and I-45 being both a critical evacuation corridor as well as part of the state’s primary freight network, this project positively impacts quality of life and industry.”

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The completion of this project leaves five remaining Texas Clear Lanes projects in progress, in the Houston area. A second project on I-45, from north of FM 517 to south of FM 1764, is widening that segment to eight lanes and adding two two-lane frontage roads. The $121.7 million project’s anticipated completion timeframe is mid-2025. Current TxDOT projects in the southeast Houston and Galveston County areas have a total investment of over $2 billion.

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