Months of frustration came to an end Sunday afternoon when the Texas Department of Transportation fully re-opened the Interstate 10 bridge over the San Jacinto River.
The last step in the process was fully re-opening the eastbound lanes by removing barricades and restoring lane markings to their original configuration, which required a full closure of the eastbound lanes over the weekend.
Late last week TxDOT spokeswoman Deidrea George warned that bad weather last week had slowed the process and might mean a further delay, but the project was finished ahead of its 5 a.m. Monday target.
Several barges torn from their moorings during Tropical Storm Imelda Sept. 20 struck the bridge. The bridge was narrowed since then, with occasional complete closures while repairs were made.
That was the second time in 2019 that the bridge was damaged by barge strikes.
State Representative Briscoe Cain said he expects the legislature will consider replacement of the bridge in the next session, though that process could be a long one since federal participation is likely.
Area commuters aren’t going to see the end of construction detours for the foreseeable future, though.
TxDOT has closed the eastbound Garth Road exit from Interstate 10 to relocate the ramp, and all traffic on the Interstate is expected to be shifted to the north, westbound lanes at FM 3180 (Eagle Drive) beginning in February to accommodate road reconstruction. That project will widen Eagle Drive and lower it to ground level, and move the Interstate onto an overpass.
Construction also continues where Highway 99 will cross Interstate 10 at Mont Belvieu, with a new interchange in the planning stage.