State makes U-turn on I-45 closure
Published July 18, 2007
The Texas Department of Transportation on Tuesday reversed a decision to shut down Interstate 45 during the next six weekends after island business owners rallied against the plan.
Instead of closing I-45 for six whole weekends, the transportation department will shut it down for less than 24 hours this weekend, according to an advisory drafted by the project’s manager and sent to department officials late Tuesday afternoon.
All other weekend construction that had been scheduled for this summer has been canceled, said spokesman Norm Wiginton after reading the advisory.
“I’m sure it has to do with Galveston businesses being very anxious to have benefits before the end of the summer,” he said. “We try to be good neighbors.”
The transportation department will shut down the interstate at NASA Road 1 from Friday night to Saturday morning to finish construction on the interchange. During the shutdown, all traffic approaching the junction will be diverted to frontage roads.
For safety reasons, I-45 must be closed as workers hang beams for the interchange overhead, Wiginton said Tuesday.
Island business owners were in an uproar earlier in the day, fretting that the consecutive weekend closures would divert tourists away during the peak season.
Randall Johnson, who owns several Galveston businesses, including JuJu Hangout and Bar, Bishop’s Bungalow and GalvestonCruises.com, said the closures would be another blow to businesses already suffering because of heavy rain.
The wet weather has diverted tourists from the island, forcing businesses to make up revenue in the second half of the summer, he said.
Galveston Island has logged 9.79 inches of rain since June 1, according to the National Weather Service.
This summer has been a little wetter than normal, said Joe Jurecka, National Weather Service forecaster.
Wiginton urged anyone traveling in and out of Galveston County to use alternative routes, such as state Highway 3, state Highway 6 and state Highway 146, on Friday night and Saturday.