Local drivers already annoyed by a traffic bottleneck on the northbound lanes of Interstate 45 near Tiki Island lately have been asking where all the construction workers have gone and whether the project is on track.
Texas Department of Transportation officials said Thursday that recent bad weather had stopped work on the project, but the work would resume soon.
“We have been doing some prep work in the meantime and hope to continue the major work within the next few weeks,” said Danny Perez, spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation.
The project, which began in December with major traffic backups on the causeway, was scheduled to end in March, but several Galveston County residents are concerned that conditions on the stretch of highway are unsafe and no one is working on it.
“If roadwork doesn’t start next week, then the timing of the lack of construction would bother me, but I still think the bigger issue is that the right lane is unsafe and undrivable unless you’re in a four-wheel pick up,” Matthew Hay said.
The plan following weather delays is to have work complete by late March or early April, Perez said.
Construction crews began the project by shutting down the left two lanes of a freeway overpass near Tiki Island while keeping two right lanes open.
Crews also removed the top layer of pavement in the far right lane of the overpass.
The project is part of a repair project on the bridge deck and expansion joints of the overpass, Perez said.
Work on the left lanes was initially planned to conclude in mid-January, when crews would move on to the right two lanes. Some drivers who’ve noticed the absence of workers in the project site are concerned that might not happen. And they are right.
Officials now hope to have the inside lanes complete by late January or early February before moving to the next step, Perez said.
Department officials are also taking upcoming Galveston events into account as the project moves forward, Perez said.
City of Galveston officials had earlier expressed concern about traffic during Mardi Gras.
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 complete.
The contractor doing the work has had recent history in Galveston County.
Durwood Greene Construction completed a road milling project on the north- and southbound lanes of I-45 along a 2.1-mile stretch of highway between Tiki Island and Texas City that led to many upset drivers calling the Texas Department of Transportation to complain about vehicle damage from flying debris.
That incident led to more than 85 people, represented by attorney William Underwood III, filing a lawsuit in Galveston County courts.
That case is still ongoing, court records show.
Durwood Greene Construction has not responded to any requests for comment during that incident or following the newest construction project.