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A very brief I-45 update

Way at the bottom of this overview of transit projects and milestones for 2015 are these three paragraphs:

The freeway project likely to attract the most attention in the Houston area – widening Interstate 45 from the Sam Houston Tollway to the central business district – is years away from construction but will also have a busy 2015 for planning.

“Our next round of meetings will produce the single preferred alternative for the project,” [Raquelle Lewis, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation’s Houston office] said. “In my mind that is huge.”

The project, estimated in current dollars at $1.1 billion, isn’t expected to start construction until 2025. Officials expect years of planning because some of the proposals have suggested lowering the freeway or adding elevated toll lanes, which have run into opposition from some neighborhoods.

I like that phrasing – “estimated in current dollars at $1.1 billion”. Remember how the I-10 widening was once “estimated” to be $1 billion? If the cost of this monstrosity comes in at less than double that amount, I’ll be impressed. I believe this description is for the entire North Houston Highway Improvement Project, which as you may recall “involves evaluation of the IH 45 North corridor from near downtown Houston to Beltway 8 North, Beltway 8 North from IH 45 North to the Hardy Toll Road, the Hardy Toll Road from IH 610 North Loop to Beltway 8 North, IH 610 North Loop from IH 45 North to the Hardy Toll Road, and portions of IH 10 and US 59 near downtown Houston”. Among other things, that means it includes the downtown roundabout proposal, the thought of which still makes me shudder. At least we know that 2025 is a long way off and Lord knows what could happen in the interim to divert or alter these plans. In the meantime, let’s keep working to build better transportation alternatives.

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