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Everything You Need To Know About TxDOT's Big Change To I-45 Near EaDo

Houston Land

The ambitious North Houston Highway Improvement Project to rework the highway system around Houston's CBD will have a profound effect on the neighborhoods surrounding Downtown, none more so than EaDo, Houston's ultra-hip neighborhood. Lucky for you, we at Bisnow dug through TxDOT's proposal to bring you everything you need to know about how the epic undertaking will change the area. Don't miss your chance to hear our panel of experts discuss the proposal and much more at the upcoming Future of EaDo event on Sept. 27.

North Houston Highway Improvement Project

The project's goal is to make sure traffic flows around Downtown in the easiest way possible. That's why the first part of the plan is to drastically widen I-45 east of Downtown to more than 30 lanes in certain sections, rivaling the Katy Freeway. 

To accommodate the increased flow of traffic, all of I-69 from Shepherd to Commerce Street would be sunk to about 20 feet below grade and widened, affecting Midtown, the Museum District and the Greater Third Ward. TxDOT believes the change will eliminate the traffic bottleneck at Spur 527. 

North Houston Highway Improvement Project

The big changes east of Downtown are focused around converting the highways into tunnels, opening the area up to greenspace, which the proposal repeatedly states is conceptual only and requires its own funding. 

But if the project is approved, greenspace between EaDo and GRBCC will be a game-changer. Instead of a huge barrier, residents and visitors will enjoy increased (and beautiful) walkability, seamlessly weaving EaDo into Downtown as shown in the artist rendering above. The increased ease of access to Minute Maid Park, GRBCC and Toyota Center will create one of the most attractive neighborhoods in Houston. 

North Houston Highway Improvement Project

One major concern is flooding. Historically, city planners have steered clear from tunnels due to their propensity to flood. After all, this is the Bayou City we're talking about. Some fear the same problem with widening I-10 will happen to the new project: the increased flow will simply attract more travelers, creating even more congestion. 

TxDOT doesn't think that will happen. Its preliminary study shows a 20% reduction in delay and a 35% increase in systemwide speed. TxDOT also estimates access to Downtown will be increased by 15%. 

North Houston Highway Improvement Project

The above rendering is what the tunnel system between EaDo and GRBCC could look like. As you might expect, burying that much concrete won't be cheap. The project comes in at over $6B, which has yet to be approved. The final decision could happen this year, then acquisition of land could begin. The project wouldn't be ready to break ground till at least 2019, and would then take years to complete in a piecemeal fashion. Such an ambitious project is a hard sell for a highway department that's already underfunded

Still have questions about the project? Good! Bring them to Bisnow's Future of EaDo event Sept. 27 where our panel of experts will be happy to field them.