KHOU 11’s Darby Douglas and Brandi Smith report
HOUSTON — Good news for drivers heading into Monday morning: Sam Houston Tollway’s main lanes are now fully open in both directions.
That means tens of thousands of commuters can now get back to their regular routes.
But with the good news comes some bad news: Harris County Tolls will start up again Tuesday at 4 a.m. on all toll roads except for the section of Sam Houston Tollway between Highway 59 and Highway 290. Tolls will be waived because some feeder roads are still closed.
Fort Bend County Tolls resume Monday.
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The toll way opening is a few days ahead of schedule, and something that crews have worked around the clock to make happen. What would normally take a month, crews finished in just four days.
“We’ve been replacing it, working 24 hours a day, starting Thursday morning, and through to finish,” said HCTRA Maintenance & Construction Engineer Matt Kainer.
Less than a week ago, the road was a river, but when the 14 feet of water drained from Sam Houston Tollway Thursday, HCTRA engineers realized it left behind a big problem on their road.
“Essentially, the main lanes of the pavement here heaved up, actually rose up from the water underneath almost a full two feet,” Kainer said.
The northbound lanes were fine, so crews quickly reopened them, but the southbound lanes needed major work.
And drivers have noticed.
“So getting out in the field from about 7 a.m., you’re not going to hit anything until about 10 a.m., so it’s just been awful, it’s been really frustrating, exasperating,” Walid Natafgy said.
Commutes that normally took minutes soon turned into hours.
“It’s hard for me to leave home knowing that I’m going to be in the car for awhile,” Ashley Millan said.
Thousands of Houston ISD students and teachers will head back to school Monday, adding to the traffic expected on the roads in the morning.
The opening of Sam Houston Tollway should bring a little relief to that traffic headache.
“That’s awesome. That’s a huge break,” Natafgy said.
But Highway 6 between Clay road and Park Row will remain closed, at least for a few more weeks.
Ashley Millan says she’s just ready to get her road back.
“Go back to your old commute if you can,” Millan said.
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