Home » Community » Part 3 – Understanding I-45 Construction: Goree Bridge Area
The new Goree Bridge off 75 will start where it used to start, then angle nortwest across I-4 5 to form an intersection with the access road and Veterans Memorial Blvd. (Rich Heiland Photo)

Part 3 – Understanding I-45 Construction: Goree Bridge Area

Rich Heiland

By Rich Heiland

Free Press Publications, LLC

For Walker County News Today

            IF YOU HAD to pick a part of the massive I-45 widening project underway in Huntsville that has wreaked havoc on local drivers, it probably would be the loss of what was called the Goree Bridge.

That bridge spanned I-45 east-to-west from the Goree Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to the north-south access road on the west side of the freeway.

That bridge was used several times daily by the 1,200-plus families in the Elkins Lake area, folks using Veterans Memorial, Goree employees and others on the east side who crossed to get to the south-bound exit ramp to 45.

Since it was taken down those drivers have had to go either to Montgomery Road or down to Park Road 40, or for most in Elkins Lake, the back exit to Veterans. One frustrated Elkins resident channeled Joni Mitchell at one point – “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.”

Chat pages, Facebook and emails have been flying about when the bridge will be replaced, what it will look like and when it will happen. A lot of false speculation has been floated.

Here is our best take on it based on discussions with Texas Department of Transportation engineers.

  1. Work on the new bridge will begin this Fall and should end in Spring of 2019.
  2. The new bridge will begin on the east side of I-45 exactly where it was before, about 150 yards south of what is now the Smiley’s gas station and convenience store. Where before it went straight across I-45 the new bridge will angle northwest to form a true four-way intersection with the access road and Veterans Memorial.
  3. The new bridge will be wider with turn lanes.

THE BRIDGE I not only thing being replaced and upgraded in the Goree area.

The old northbound exit ramp is being replaced and relocated further south. The exit will begin off 45 near the Sam Houston Statue. It will be a longer, more gradual exit and will bend into a T-intersection with 45. However, even though it is a T and not an acute merge, engineers say the exiting traffic will have the right-of-way.

This means north- and south-bound traffic on Route 75 will have to yield. On at least one chat site that location has been questioned because of an incline coming north from the Sam Houston Statue Visitor Center. Is there enough line of sight from that direction? The question also was raised about whether stop signs (used for 75 traffic at the old exit further north) would be safer.

“We will be constantly monitoring it,” a TXDOT spokesperson told WCNT.

Advantages of the new location and formation would be that drivers exiting 45 will be able to make a right turn south to get to the Visitor Center. And, while there may be an issue with line of sight coming north on 75, overall visibility will be improved over the acute angle merge that was in place before.

On the other side of the highway the southbound exit off the access road will be relocated closer to the old site of the Goree Bridge intersection and it will be extended for a more gradual merge.

The access road from the Veterans intersection south will remain as a two-way road.

Next: Part 4: Highway 19 Area

Rich Heiland, former publisher of the Huntsville Item and owner of Free Press publications, LLC, a reporting/writing firm working with media, has been a reporter, editor and publisher at several daily papers. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize winning team. He taught journalism at Western Illinois University. He can be reached at freepresstx@gmail.com or 936-293-0293.

About Rich Heiland

Rich Heiland, former publisher of the Huntsville Item and owner of Free Press publications, LLC, a reporting/writing firm working with media, has been a reporter, editor and publisher at several daily papers. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize winning team. He taught journalism at Western Illinois University. He can be reached at freepresstx@gmail.com or 936-293-0293.

4 comments

  1. George H. Russell

    Typical TxDot incompetence and mismanagement. The new bridge could easily have been built adjacent or even overhead before the old bridge was torn down or at the very least the new bridge could have been built immediately after the old bridge was torn down or TxDot could have waited until it was essential to tear down the old bridge rather than inconvenience folks for zero legitimate reason for many months.

    • Just total common sense, right?, of which evidently TxDot has none of.

      • Actually it is engineering. Two things. First, all of the widening work being done on I-45, which is a part of the ultimate Highway 19 interchange, could not have been done with the existing bridge there and putting the replacement bridge in first would have made that work more cumbersome. To put the new bridge up before tearing the old one down would have required going further north and the taking of the gas station property through emminent domain. That is always a headache, and it is one that is going to come up during the phase from 19 to 30, where some existing businesses on the east side access road will lose frontage, some of it significant.

  2. My BIG beef with TxDOT is how close the concrete barriers are from New Waverly into Huntsville. I have seen many 18 wheeler trucks veer into the other lane leading to many close calls. Why can’t they give several feet on each side to allow for driver error? I would also recommend that 18 wheelers have to slow down to 55 in construction zones. some of them can be bullies (many are not). If there is an accident on 45 with barricades all around, it makes it hard for rescue to arrive and traffic worsens. I would also vote for a service road from New Waverly all the way to Park Road 40 in order to allow another route for traffic besides 75.
    It is so dangerous!
    Thank you for allowing comments!
    Janet Logan

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