Cost Estimates Go up for Houston Freeway Project

The contentious reconfiguration of Interstate 45 is now estimated to cost $274 million more as the project faces community opposition and a federal investigation.

2 minute read

April 4, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Downtown Houston overlooking Interstate 45.

Interstate 45 in downtown Houston | Anrui11 / Downtown Houston overlooking Interstate 45.

A freeway project in Houston will cost an additional $750 million, reports Dug Begley, bringing the total cost to over $9 billion. "Officials last week confirmed new estimates showing an increase of $477.7 million in planned work, while another $274 million in added costs are likely for projects delayed by the roadblocks the project has faced."

The Texas Department of Transportation has spent nearly two decades planning to rebuild I-45 from downtown Houston north to Beltway 8, as the freeway’s ramps and lanes have outlived their intended lives. Plans call for rebuilding the main lanes and adding two managed lanes in each direction, as well as rebuilding the interchanges of all freeways in downtown and the I-45 interchange with Loop 610 near Independence Heights.

The rerouted freeway, which will cut through dozens of downtown neighborhoods, has faced strong criticism from community members. "Opponents to the project argue it does not do enough to shift Houston-area drivers from solo automobile trips and enables more suburban commuting by car and truck at the expense of safer streets and less disruption for the neighborhoods along the route."

The project also faces a federal investigation into "whether the project adequately considers the effects of the larger freeway on low-income and minority communities," Begley writes. "In a statement, federal highway officials said the investigation is 'making progress' but offered no timeline for when it could wrap up."

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