Update, 5:07 p.m.
Galveston County has waived tolls at the San Luis Pass in an effort to ease some of the congestion coming on to the island.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry approved the waiver about 4 p.m., he said
The bridge, which connects Galveston Island to Brazoria County, is one of only alternate routes onto Galveston not using Interstate 45.
The traffic jam on the interstate continued through Saturday afternoon, with some drivers reporting waiting three hours or more to get on to the island.
The waiver will remain in place until Monday, the county said.
A traffic jam on Interstate 45 is causing people to wait in traffic for nearly two hours or more as they try to reach Galveston on Saturday afternoon
The traffic jam was created by emergency roadwork at the bridge at Tiki Island, just north of the Galveston Causeway. The Texas Department of Transportation last week found several damaged beams on northbound bridge, and soon after announced plans to demolish the span entirely.
The demolition will require traffic to be moved on to the southbound bridge. The work this weekend is part of the plan to redirect traffic around the damaged bridge.
The highway has been reduced to a single lane in both directions at Tiki Island.
Slow traffic was reported as early as 8 a.m., and the jam has extended north through the morning. According to live traffic maps, the traffic jam into Galveston on Interstate 45 begins at Exit 11.
A smaller traffic jam is occurring on the northbound side of the Galveston Causeway.
Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said deputies assigned to work on Bolivar Peninsula were being told to drive north to Interstate 10 and to reach the peninsula through Chambers County.
Galveston County Jail deputies were also being told to plan to wait two hours in traffic when they were coming in for their shifts this evening, Trochesset said.
Traffic jams are also being reported on the southbound sides of state Highway 6, state highway 3, state Highway 146 and Loop 197, all of which connect to Interstate 45 before the construction area.
Officials urged drivers to consider their travel plans to Galveston, and take alternate routes if possible. The only ways to access the island apart from the highway is to use state Highway 257 in Brazoria County and drive on to the West End or use state Highway 87 on Bolivar Peninsula and ride on Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry.
The construction is planned to continue through 5 a.m. Monday, according to the transportation department.