In a project meant to ease traffic at one of the most awkward and controversial intersections in the city, the Texas Department of Transportation on Thursday opened the new access road at the so-called Five Corners in League City.
At noon, crews were still applying stripes on the road and making signal adjustments, department spokesman Danny Perez said. The opening came after weeks of delays.
Frustrated motorists waited longer than usual to go through the two intersections Thursday morning as Galveston County Sheriff’s deputies directed impatient traffic through flashing red signal lights.
By Thursday afternoon, the traffic began flowing more smoothly, motorists reported. The access road opened about 3:20 p.m., Perez said.
Motorists were able to drive on the new access road Thursday afternoon for the first time since construction began in September 2016.
The awkward conjunction of FM 518, FM 2094 and FM 270 has been a headache in League City for decades. Officials have studied the problem, proposed solutions and debated the outcomes for decades, also. One proposal to build an overpass failed, and the current design does not please everyone.
League City officials in November said crews could complete work at the reconstructed intersection by the end of the year, but bad weather and construction problems delayed opening of the new access road.
“We were originally anticipating finishing by early spring,” Perez said. If the project is completed by March, the state will actually finish ahead of schedule.
Resident Karl Wankowicz is thrilled the project is coming to an end, he said.
“Is it the ultimate solution?” Wankowicz said. “No. But at least we are getting something that should help alleviate the problems at that intersection.”
The project is meant to reduce some of the traffic congestion motorists experience at the three lighted intersections at the site.
Part of that plan is the new right turn lane off FM 518 onto a bypass that now connects to FM 270.
The new design cuts down the turns needed to get through the acutely angled intersection, city officials said. The idea is to also shorten the time it takes motorists to move through the intersections.
But not everyone is happy with the improvements.
“The Five Corners project is chock-full of design flaws,” resident Jay Holley said. “FM 518 westbound will lose the designated right-turn only lane, and the new southbound pass-through has a designated right-turn lane. Who would turn left from southbound FM 270 just to turn right onto 518? And northbound FM 270 should have received a designated right-turn only lane.”
The new access road will bring much needed traffic relief to residents, city officials said.
Although the road is now open, crews will still need to complete sidewalks and other ancillary items to complete the project by March, officials said.