For drivers in Galveston County, the next few months are going to be more frustrating than normal.
• In the north and central parts of the county, drivers should expect many closures of Interstate 45 traffic lanes and feeder roads between FM 517 and FM 518 this month, state transportation officials said. The closures include the northbound and southbound lanes, frontage roads and the entrance and exit routes.
• The much-anticipated bypass at Five Corners in League City, the transportation officials said, should be opened later this month. After the bypass opens, though, the project will still need sidewalks and other ancillary items.
• But what could be a major headache for Galveston Island is the bottleneck on the northbound lanes of I-45 near Tiki Island.
The project, which began in December 2017 with major traffic backups on the causeway, was scheduled to end in March, but has been delayed by what transportation officials said has been recent bad weather. The new projection is the project would be completed by the end of March or early April.
Mardi Gras, an annual pre-Lenten festival that draws thousands of visitors to Galveston and is among the city’s most lucrative events, is scheduled from Feb. 2 to Feb. 13, a month before the project is expected to be completed.
For those of us in Galveston County, traffic coming off the island during the Mardi Gras weekend nights is frustrating, at best. The Tiki Island project, coupled with the I-45 closures in the northern part of the county, could lead to more than frustration. The situation could be dangerous.
City of Galveston officials have expressed concern about traffic during Mardi Gras. The department of transportation officials said they are also taking upcoming Galveston events into account as the project moves forward.
Some drivers have noticed the absence of workers not only with the Tiki Island project, but over the months, only sporadic sighting of workers at the other roadwork zones in the county.
Last week, more highway work began on the stretch between FM 517 and FM 518. On Saturday night and early Sunday, workers were out trying to fix the right-hand lane that many drivers complained was nearly impassable at the Tiki Island project.
We realize that with a growing population, roadwork and more roadwork is necessary. There also is the argument that along the Texas Gulf Coast — a popular vacation area — there really isn’t a time roadwork is not going to bottleneck traffic.
But doing roadwork during two of the island’s busiest traffic weekends has us puzzled.
Just how much transportation officials take the upcoming Galveston events into consideration remains to be seen, but we are hopeful their plan is a good one.
• Dave Mathews