Drivers in League City, rejoice, because FM 646 could open ahead of schedule.
The contractor building a new FM 646 road under Interstate 45 is ahead of schedule, and the new roadway could open to traffic in two or three weeks, said Danny Perez, spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation.
“It’s always the goal to complete projects sooner rather than later,” Perez said. “We understand it has major impacts to folks if construction continues. Our goal is to minimize those impacts as much as possible.”
The new target date for reopening the road is much sooner than the original fall deadline, Perez said.
Business operators along the interstate greeted Monday’s news with excitement.
“If that’s the case, we’ll have to have a little celebration,” said Manish Maheshwari, who, with business partners, owns franchises Little Bella Mia and Coco Crepes, Waffles & Coffee in Pinnacle Park. “That’s definitely good news. Some of the better news I’ve heard.”
Several business owners in the area for months have said they’re concerned about sales with the closure of FM 646 overpass and related traffic problems.
City officials in May said the work could also be to blame for new estimates that the city might finish 2019 with about $400,000 less sales tax revenue than initially projected.
Business operators especially were concerned about the ramifications of long-term construction around FM 646.
Businesses in the area can weather a six-month project, but they could have problems if that schedule slows down, Maheshwari said in a previous interview with The Daily News.
Crews on March 1 closed the FM 646 overpass as the first step in expanding the highway in that area but ongoing Interstate 45 construction isn’t new.
The closure is part of work to replace the former FM 646 overpass with a street running under the interstate, officials said.
Department officials also closed down many of the exits between FM 517 and FM 518 as part of their $120 million effort to expand the interstate, leading to long lines of cars during rush hour and discouraging many would-be shoppers.
Reopening FM 646 traffic will enable crews to continue moving their work at expanding the interstate south, Perez said.
“We want to address congestion and growth in the area and traffic volume,” Perez said of the ongoing construction. “In order to do that, we have to have closures in place. And we appreciate everyone’s patience. But we know to move on, we’ll need to open up access.”
The plan to widen Interstate 45 through Galveston County will take place in several phases.