Beltway 8 West reopens in both directions near Memorial after repairs, floodwater pumped out
HOUSTON – The Beltway 8 West southbound lanes near I-10 in west Houston are open Monday after crews made repairs over the weekend.
Four lanes on the southbound side have reopened. Harris County Tollroad Authority officials say a right lane and ramp are likely to remain closed for another week.
The northbound lanes of the West Belt reopened Friday after crews pumped water out and made repairs.
Beltway 8 was one of the last remaining major roadways still reeling from the devastating flooding from Hurricane Harvey. The section of the West Sam Houston Tollway has been closed in the Memorial area since the end of August.
Officials at the Texas Department of Transportation and the Harris County Toll Road Authority said water receded enough to allow for it to be pumped off the tollway on Wednesday and into Buffalo Bayou via the northbound feeder road.
“We will evaluate the road, to see if there is any major impact and what it will take to fix it,” Roxanna Sibrian, with the Harris County Toll Road Authority, said. “Safety is the most important thing at this point, given all that has happened in our city. so we want to open the roadways when it's perfectly safe to do. Without knowing what is really going on it's hard to say how much work will need to happen.”
Crews used eight pumps to remove the water. Toll road authorities initially said the process would take up to two days to complete.
In addition to pumping out water, crews also have to deal with a massive sinkhole on the frontage road of Beltway 8 and Boheme.
TxDOT officials said they knew about the sinkhole after Hurricane Harvey hit, but they are just beginning repairs. It could take a week to repair the sinkhole before the road is reopened to thousands of commuters.
Traffic has been diverted onto other major roadways in the area, resulting in traffic jams and significantly longer commutes.
Alyson Griffin lives in Memorial Bend, which sits next to the West Park Toll Road. Two and a half feet of water damaged her home, and the closure is making renovations worse.
"Two and a half hours for people to get here to work, so it's more mold in the house. More issues in the house," Griffin said.
Engineers will survey the damage.
"We're going to inspect our facilities, the road surface, as well as our walls and determine if there's any repairs necessary," John Tyler, with the Harris County Toll Road Authority, said.
Cooling off drivers' frustration
Many drivers have used side roads like Pebblehill Drive in Bunker Hill to try and navigate around closed roads.
Along the way, drivers will find a group of neighbors standing with a “Free Water” sign passing out ice cold bottles of water. It’s a cold gesture that’s warming hearts and cooling driver’s frustration.
“Something so simple, just say we appreciate what people are going through. It’s really bad,” Reza Shoaee said about the mess Hurricane Harvey left behind. “I had one lady in tears yesterday she said she had been driving for four hours and she was really thirsty, so it was really good to help her.”
Shoaee, like many Houstonians, experienced sitting in traffic for 3 1/2 hours the day before. He said he wanted to pass out water to help drivers.
“We’re so lucky we didn’t get any flood damage, but a lot of people have and we really want to do our part,” Shoaee said.
The traffic caused some people to find alternative rounds.
“Yesterday, 2 1/2 hours, today it’s been about 30 minutes, so, much better and these people are giving water, so that’s awesome,” said Richard Reedstrom, who rode his bike to work instead of driving.
“It’s just been all day long, it starts at 5 a.m. and goes till about 3 a.m., there really isn’t much of a break, there are sirens, there are horns,” said Jack Chaney who can see the traffic from his Bunker Hill home. “It’s incredible how efficient our freeways are when they are up and running and clear and you really get a greater sense of appreciation for the infrastructure that we do have when it’s clear.”
Copyright 2017 by KPRC Click2Houston. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.