Drivers along state Highway 3 this week might encounter some new sights on their commute.
City crews have erected several barrels and barricades at the intersection of the highway and FM 518 and League City Parkway in response to a drastic uptick in vehicle accidents, road rage incidents and other problems, said Sarah Greer Osborne, spokeswoman for the League City.
Representatives for the League City Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for statistics about how many accidents have occurred on the busy stretch of highway in Galveston County’s biggest city.
But city administrators are blaming the uptick on nearby Interstate 45 construction and drivers trying to avoid traffic, Greer Osborne said.
“We’ve been seeing a lot more traffic flow on our backroads,” Greer Osborne said. “People are trying to avoid I-45 as much as possible, and so you’re seeing more cars on state Highway 3 and other roads through the city. Our job is to adjust and plan for it.”
Representatives for the Texas Department of Transportation, however, argued they have kept all the main lanes open on Interstate 45 except for a few closures and can’t connect increased traffic on state Highway 3 to construction on I-45.
Crews at the behest of the Texas Department of Transportation are working on a $120 million project to add lanes to the interstate between Houston and Galveston. Though League City residents recently got something of a reprieve when crews last month reopened FM 646 months ahead of schedule, construction work should still last for several years.
And city administrators are concerned that even when crews finally finish the project, the congestion along state Highway 3 might not abate given how quickly the city is growing in population, Greer Osborne said.
League City’s population in January was 106,803, up from about 102,634 at the same time in 2017, officials said. Only about 52 percent of League City is developed, and projections show that once fully developed the population could rise to more than 200,000, officials said.
In response to the increased traffic, city crews have installed traffic cones to keep drivers from traveling the wrong way along the left turn lane and installed barricades at the southbound median cut-through to keep drivers from crossing during peak travel times at the intersection of state Highway 3 and FM 518, city officials said.
Crews also have installed barrels down the two-way turn lanes at state Highway 3 and League City Parkway to keep drivers from cutting down the turn lanes and to encourage them to use the left turn bay at the traffic signal, officials said.
But all of the measures in place are temporary, and city administrators have proposed several ideas to permanently fix some of the traffic issues, Greer Osborne said. Those ideas include extending left-turn lanes to accommodate more vehicles, converting some through lanes to turn-only lanes and blocking cross traffic in some places.
The city council would not have to sign off on many of those fixes, which would be done in-house and require minimal expenditures, but the Texas Department of Transportation would have to approve them, Greer Osborne said.
“We have asked the city to submit a lane closure permit for TxDOT review and approval,” said Danny Perez, spokesman for the department. “It is always our goal to work with our partners to improve mobility and enhance safety. We will continue to work with the city on this matter.”