Work begins on Highway 21 bridge project

Posted 1/28/20

Work began this week on a $4 million project to widen the State Highway 21 bridge over Interstate 45, a task that should run through the summer months.

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Work begins on Highway 21 bridge project

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Work began this week on a $4 million project to widen the State Highway 21 bridge over Interstate 45, a task that should run through the summer months.

Workers will install additional columns and beams next to the existing bridge, remove a portion of the existing concrete bridge deck and all of the existing rail and repour the bridge deck together, according to Bobby Colwell, spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation.

The high-traffic area, especially impacted by traffic in and out of Buc-Ee’s, will face lane closures and re-routed traffic during most of the construction.

“The contractor is going to attempt to minimize the traffic impacts to the public, but the biggest hurdles will be the planned closures of IH 45 or SH 21 at various times,” Colwell said. “During the construction of the additional bridge width it will be necessary for driver safety to detour traffic around the bridge.

“These closures would only be performed through the night (7 p.m. to 6 a.m.) on weeknights (Monday – Thursday), and only periodically and with advanced notice and coordination with the community and law enforcement.”

Drivers around Madisonville will also face TxDOT work on State Highway 75, where traffic lights were erected in the past week where the highway intersects East Collard St. A 2019 project to reduce the lanes on 75 will also be adjusted to include a right-turn lane.

The larger project on 21 will likely snarl traffic throughout construction, but may provide some long-term relief on the bridge as it narrows to two-lane roads on either side.

“The best way to avoid a bottle neck is to keep traffic moving, and the best way to do that is to give the drivers lanes that don’t have multiple options,” said Colwell. “In the current configuration, drivers on the bridge might have to slow down briefly to allow a vehicle to change lanes so that they can turn left, or right. These slowdowns lead to inefficiency as some vehicles get caught by the red light.

“This project aims to get drivers in the lane they want to go earlier in the process and reduce the number of slowdowns on the bridge. Eastbound will be gaining a second lane that will be a dedicated through lane on the bridge. Westbound will be gaining a dedicated left turn lane on the for southbound traffic.”

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