Special to The Leader
The most talked-about highway project in Southeast Texas is about to enter into a new phase.
Beginning Sunday night, March 17, bridge crews will begin the week-long process to shift traffic at the Neches River bridge, also known as the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) says the “Big Shift” will eventually move all eastbound traffic to the westbound lanes of the bridge.
“This is the beginning of an important phase of the project”, said Tucker Ferguson, Beaumont District Engineer. “Our goal is to shift traffic as safely and quickly as possible with the least amount of inconvenience to drivers.”
Beginning 9 p.m., Sunday, weather permitting, bridge crews will close one westbound lane to move the concrete barrier. Work is expected to be completed by early Monday morning.
On Wednesday night, March 20, workers will have alternating westbound lane closures to continue setting the barrier, followed by a Thursday night eastbound closure for more barrier work.
Beginning Friday night, March 22, and into the weekend, the contractor will complete barrier work, restriping the westbound bridge to handle eastbound traffic and shift traffic to the westbound bridge. Workers will also temporarily close the entrance ramp to eastbound Interstate 10 from downtown to construct a temporary detour.
TxDOT expects to have the switch to the westbound bridge and the ramp completed by Sunday afternoon, March 24, weather permitting. Once completed, the westbound bridge will handle two lanes of westbound traffic and two lanes of eastbound traffic.
The work is part of the state’s $59 million project to build a new I-10 crossing at the Neches River. The project contractor, Williams Brothers, expects to be complete in mid-2015.