The state’s ongoing widening of Interstate 45 in League City has some drivers concerned about dangerous conditions and more wrecks during commuting hours because of temporary exits and unclear signage.
“I feel like the construction here is very dangerous,” said League City resident Athena Rice. “There are some abrupt changes with very little warning, and workers are often very close to traffic.”
But construction crews must contend with limited areas to work and Texas Department of Transportation workers have done what they can to limit danger, state officials said.
Two different construction projects are ongoing in the League City area — one between FM 517 to FM 518 and the second from FM 518 to NASA Road 1 — as part of the interstate widening project, said Danny Perez, spokesman for the department.
Crews are reconstructing I-45 to eight lanes of traffic, up from six lanes, in Galveston County, officials said.
There have been 340 crashes between FM 517 and FM 518 on I-45 since January, according to Texas Department of Transportation data.
The construction causes long backups during commuting hours and temporary exits near FM 646 and closed exits are leading to lots of driver confusion, residents said.
The northbound exit from the interstate onto state Highway 96 also is causing problems, residents said.
“It would be nice if there was a sign or something before the new and temporary entrances on the highway, saying there’s a temporary entrance,” said League City resident Scott Guzman.
The exits cause less of a problem in the mornings because people see the construction, but the problem is worse at night, Guzman said.
“I just wish there was more signage,” he said.
Department crews do, however, place signs and other markings along construction zones to alert drivers and they design work zones to maximize safety, Perez said.
“The traffic control devices, signs and pavement markings that are present along the corridor to delineate and identify these work zones have been placed per the construction plans and design standards,” Perez said.
Department officials also have reduced the speed limit in the area so drivers can navigate the construction and have kept the left turn lanes open at the I-45 and state Highway 96 intersection to improve conditions, Perez said.
“As a part of this commitment, we regularly review the site conditions along the corridor and make improvements when and where possible,” Perez said.
But crews could add more lighting and other devices to improve safety in the area at night, residents said.
Crews will finish work on the interstate between NASA Road 1 and FM 518 in late 2021, Perez said.
But crews will demolish the FM 646 overpass and construct an I-45 overpass so freeway traffic flows on top and FM 646 flows under.
Officials considered starting the project sometime in the fall, but won’t begin until January because businesses requested that, Perez said.
“It is always our mission to work with our stakeholders to minimize impacts on the traveling public and entire community,” Perez said.