SEABROOK, Texas (FOX 26) — A major five-year highway expansion project has begun through Seabrook and Kemah, putting dozens of businesses in upheaval. The project will widen State Highway 146 on a 4.5-mile route.
When it’s finished SH-146 will be expanded from four to twelve lanes.
The project will affect 43 businesses in its path, many of which are having to demolish and rebuild elsewhere, according to Seabrook Mayor Thom Kolupski.
"We’ve lost some very well-established buildings in the city of Seabrook,” said Kolupski. “It’s been painful.”
The Texas Department of Transportation $201.8 million project runs from Red Bluff Road to north of State Highway 96. It will facilitate better evacuation in the event of a hurricane.
"The purpose of the project is essentially an evacuation route for Galveston County, hurricane evacuation route," said Kolupski.
SH-146 will bridge overtop of major intersections, cutting out stop lights and making it an expressway.
"It’s also mobility," said Kolupski. "There’s been a large amount of growth on the south side of Harris County and over the county line in Galveston, and so it’s mobility and evacuation.”
The City of Seabrook is doing what it can to help the businesses that have been forced to relocate from the path of the SH-146 expansion project.
"We have, over the years, put up a little slush fund to help our businesses stay in the community,” said Kolupski. “Our economic development corporation has worked hard to keep a lot of our businesses here.”
"We’ve made huge economic provisions for this moment, and we’re fully confident that once the project is complete, there’s a number of redevelopment opportunities along the corridor," said Seabrook City Manager Gayle Cook.
For anyone headed to and from Galveston for Mardi Gras, the good news is that two lanes will remain open in both directions, per usual, so for the time being, traffic is not significantly impacted by this new project.