CHANNELVIEW, Texas – Traffic on the Interstate 10 East Freeway at the San Jacinto Bridge has been a major headache for drivers coming in and out of that area since it was closed last week.
Imelda hammered Southeast Texas and dropped multiple feet of water over the area, causing rivers and creeks to swell and come out of their banks.
According to authorities, the strong currents and rapidly rising waters of the San Jacinto River caused nine barges to break free and float down river.
Just after midnight Sept. 19, two of the barges struck the San Jacinto Bridge and became stuck underneath it, officials said.
The bridge was subsequently closed in order for officials to safely remove the barges and inspect the damage to the bridge.
Crews were able to remove the barges Sunday, but it is still unclear when the bridge will reopen.
Working to reopen:
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez shared a tweet Monday that plans were underway to “combine westbound (and) eastbound traffic onto one side of the freeway.”
Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed the plans Tuesday.
In a statement, TxDOT said:
“We have … begun preliminary set up for reconfiguring the I-10 eastbound bridge to accommodate both westbound and eastbound traffic. Today, we are working to set the concrete barrier. However, this initiative will require several additional steps such as restriping before we can open the reconfigured roadway to traffic.”
Officials said the plan is to have two lanes of traffic in each direction flowing on the eastbound side of the bridge by the Wednesday morning rush hour. However, officials said it could take an additional 48 hours to have the fix operational.
However, despite plans to reconfigure traffic, authorities announced Tuesday night that two eastbound lanes were opened to traffic.
Authorities worked around the clock in order to get the westbound lanes reopened by the morning commute.
On Wednesday, police shared a tweet from the TxDOT that said two westbound lanes had been reopened.
TxDOT said it has divers inspecting the damage to the westbound bridge caused by the barges.