Ask 2: Are construction timelines for Houston roadways expedited now that fewer cars are on the road?

FILE - In this July 11, 2019, file photo, construction on the Interstate 69 and Interstate 610 interchange continues in Houston. In the midst of an election year, President Donald Trump has outlined a new $1 trillion infrastructure plan. This time, the Republican president is proposing to rely fully on federal spending to reach his goal, a fundamental change that is praised by some state transportation officials and industry groups, even though Trump's proposal doesn't spell out how to pay for it all.(Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP, File) (Elizabeth Conley, © 2018 Houston Chronicle)

HOUSTON –The question: Are construction timelines for Houston roadways expedited now that fewer cars are on the road?

The answer: After speaking with several traffic entities around town, the answer is, low traffic volumes are not expediting road construction projects, but rather helping crews and contractors work more efficiently.

“Houston Public Works is certainly benefiting from this low traffic time with the department’s street maintenance and capital improvement projects," the City of Houston said. “Fewer traffic allows contractors to work without interruptions.”

The city said on-going projects may be completed faster. Any projects in what are normally highly congested areas are benefiting from less traffic, the city said.

Examples include:

• Crews will be working on paving and drainage on a variety of roadways including Memorial from Shepherd to downtown and Bagby (as part of a Tax Increment Reinvestment, or TIRZ) and McKinney (part of a Downtown TIRZ).

• Overlays on Hamblen Road and Bellfort

• Panel replacements on Longpoint Road, Will Clayton and Fuqua

“However, no additional local funding is available at this time to accelerate future projects,” the city said. "Should stimulus funding for infrastructure projects be made available to the city, the department will seek to perform more work sooner.”

The Texas Department of Transportation said area engineers are always looking to advance their construction projects.

“The West Loop and Southwest Freeway interchange project was able to accelerate some demolition of the I-610 mainlanes a few weekends ago,” said Danny Perez with TxDOT. “This work required the total closure of all I-610 mainlanes in both directions at the Southwest Freeway over one weekend. This work was originally scheduled to take place after the Houston Rodeo was over but we were able to begin this work a lot sooner as the Houston Rodeo was cancelled due to Covid-19. This work would have required two weekends instead of just one."

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