Texas Highway 146 expansion: Big changes to come
In January 2012, the City of Seabrook held the first public hearing to propose a plan to widen a three-mile span of Texas Highway 146 beginning from Red Bluff Road south bound all the way to FM 518, turning a four-lane highway into a six to 12 lane freeway. The project will cost approximately $200 million.
“Construction is set to begin in the summer of 2018, but is certainly subject to change to” Danny Perez, public information officer at TxDOT reported. The project is expected to take 48 months to construct. The three-mile span will stretch right through the middle of popular tourist towns Seabrook and Kemah.
Some businesses will close temporarily for relocation, while others are still unsure of the future, such as local favorite Outriggers, which is located just under the Kemah Bridge.
“We hope to re-open, but it’s difficult to plan this stuff when you don’t know when everything is supposed to happen,” said Tina Kendrick, manager of Outriggers
A common attitude shared among most of the local business owners is that they don’t want to leave their loyal customers without their local favorites.
Vinny Schillaci, owner of Neptune’s Subs restaurant, known for its iconic green and yellow building, smiled when he spoke of opening his restaurant nearly 40 years ago. With the help of close friends, he took a little shack and turned it into a fully operating restaurant. Schillaci expressed his intent to re-locate less than a mile away from his current location; however, he is concerned it will not have the same comfortable feeling everyone has come to know and love.
“When you have a place for 38 years that is comfortable like this, it’s hardly the same when you move,” Shillaci said.
Several other owners and employees shared that same concern. An employee at Mario’s Flying Pizza expressed having a new restaurant location will be nice and is planning to re-open about a quarter mile down Nasa Parkway.
The City of Seabrook’s marketing manager LeAnn Dearman said, “There is a list of retail estate available, it’s up to the businesses to step up and play their own part.”
Seabrook City establishments have already began closing their doors, Popeyes closed down in Fall 2016 and The Taco Bell KFC combo closed at the end of January this year.
For commuters, the expansion is a no brainer. Commuters can expect to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour just on this three-mile span on any given day during rush hour.
“Living south of the Kemah Bridge essentially guarantees I will be stuck in traffic every day,” said Paul Martinez, who uses Highway 146 daily.
Despite the inconvenience of delaying with the construction “I’m ready to be able to get off of work and just coast home, without traffic for once the expansion can’t come soon enough” Martinez said.
The expansion will not only be able to clear some of the traffic congestion commuters face on a daily basis, it is also designed to provide a safe and efficient route to exit the city if a natural disaster occurs, such as a hurricane. Perez also pointed out that growth has been so great along the corridor, the expansion is absolutely necessary to accommodate current and future growth.
“Construction will be done in phases and major detours are not to be expected,” Perez said. “We will do our best to minimize impacts on the traveling public.” Perez also expressed that they have no intention of closing the Kemah Bridge during construction.
Community members who may still have concerns or want more information about the expansion are encouraged to use the project tracker application. Any closures related to the project will be posted at www.houstontranstar.org once the construction begins.