By Nick Russo

There I was on Sunday morning, sitting at the bar of La Mexicana on Montrose & Fairview, eating a bowl of menudo trying to recover from a hangover when I cranked up a conversation with the gentleman to my right. He worked in commercial banking and he was just as open to a conversation with a stranger as myself. We chatted about the housing crash of 2008 and what caused it and then he brought up something I had not yet heard about.

He told me about the plans to demolish 45 through downtown Houston and make it an underground highway! At first, I side-eyed him with doubt but then he went on to say it was a $6 billion dollar plan that was in the process of getting approval from the city.

My initial thoughts were, “Greeeeeat more construction in a city that seems to thrive off of more construction.” Then, I thought, “wow, this could be really amazing!” There is already the Washburn Tunnel and then there is also the Downtown Tunnel District¬†so this wasn’t too far fetched.

After lunch, I went home and told my family about what we had discussed and finally I decided to Google what I’d learned to see what I could find out and this is what I’ve found:

According to Dallasnews.com, Texas transportation officials have unveiled a bold plan to reconfigure a major interstate through downtown Houston that would place lanes below ground level, alleviate congestion and give the city a dramatic face lift.

This article was written in 2015 but went on to talk about the plans and the reasons behind the planning like constant complaints about congestion, car accidents and too many turns that cause traffic to back up at all times of the day. (They’re all very valid reasons if you’ve spent any time driving on 45 through downtown Houston.)

This was the part that really stood out to me, the third piece of their plan:

The third segment of the project would essentially move I-45 eastward where it shares a portion of I-10 before curving southward. Parts of I-10 and I-69 would be straightened and, most significantly, a portion of the Pierce Elevated, which constitutes a section of I-45, would be removed, allowing for neighborhoods to reconnect.

Could you imagine? 59 or 69 or whatever you wanna call it turned into a straight shot rather than the huge loop under and through downtown Houston!

While this may make some squirm at the idea of that much construction over the course of however long it would take to accomplish or make others get excited about a revolutionary highway system it’s still a long-off dream, if you will.

According to Chron.com, issues regarding public transit, the existing rail system, the metro buses and the wild level of red tape that will be required to accomplish these goals are all standing in the way. I couldn’t find any real information that showed confirmation of an execution plan but the latest information shows the plan being bumped up to $7 billion worth of changes.

I’m all for it! I live in EaDo and deal with most of these highways on a daily basis so I’d see the brunt of the congestion through construction but the beauty and awe of the highway would be well worth it. Plus, it’d be nice to NOT have to deal with the nightmare that is highways in Downtown Houston.


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