By Mary Alys Cherry
The face of Seabrook is about to change as the Texas Department of Transportation rebuilds State Highway 146 from Red Bluff Road south past NASA Parkway and on through Kemah to Highway 518 – turning the roadway into a 6-to-12 lane freeway.
With construction of the five-year, $200 million project expected to start any day now, it’s hard to drive through Seabrook and not be consumed with sadness. In a way, this main thoroughfare through town almost looks like it might be part of the war in Syria.
Remember the Wells-Fargo Bank that started out life first as Clear Creek State Bank and then Allied Bank and has stood many years at the corner of 146 and Capri Lane? It fell to the wrecking ball and is now just a pile of dust. Ditto for the Valero service station where many a motorist bought gas. So are dozens of other businesses.
McDonald’s? Gone. Walgreen’s? CVS? Gone. Whataburger? Gone. Neptune Subs? Gone. Jiffy Lube? Gone, along with Hill’s Liquor Discount, Jiffy Lube, Benjamin’s Automotive, All American Auto Repair, Rustic Furniture, The Waffle House, Tookie’s Hamburgers, KFC/Taco Bell, Laredos, TNT Mattress Outlet, Donald’s Donuts. Angel Haircuts and dozens more.About the only places left in the Five Points area where one can eat is Mario’s Flying Pizza, Tookie’s Seafood and the Classic Cafe. Most businesses are opening up shop in other parts of town.
Each day another part of a building comes tumbling down as the Texas Department of Transportation demolishes one structure after another in the run-up to rebuilding the highway from the Seabrook Channel Bridge on the city’s southside, through NASA 1 to Red Bluff. A new bridge across the bay from Seabrook to Kemah also will be built and the current Seabrook-Kemah Bridge will be used as a frontage road to ease traffic.
But, while the next five years – yes, five years – will be difficult on everyone, residents and visitors alike, once RS&H Engineering and Webber Construction begins work, they hope to turn the project into a thing of beauty.
Mayor Thom Kolupski says that through a partnership between the City of Seabrook and the Seabrook Economic Development Council (SEDC), working with TxDOT, a “beautiful and only in Seabrook, highway design standard which will enhance the seaside characteristics of our community has been finalized.
“The designs include a sailboat motif on the side walls of the overpasses, white powder-coated traffic signals and LED lighting with nautical bollards under the underpasses. Future projects in the work call for nautical gateway signage at the city entrances with possible boardwalk and LED lighting under the Seabrook Channel Bridge,” he added.
Construction will start on the southside of Seabrook, Kolupski said, at the Seabrook-Kemah Bridge and move north toward the Red Bluff overpass
“TxDOT has assured us that four lanes of traffic will remain open during construction, with additional lane closures, when necessary, limited to off peak night hours,” Kolupski pointed out. “With that said, traffic delays may still occur throughout the construction project, especially during our commuting hours.”Noting that the next few years will be demanding, the mayor asked the public to have patience and understanding. “We also would like your input when a problem or issue is noticed or perceived. Do not hesitate to bring issues or concerns to our attention.
The Seabrook mayor wants businesses to know they are not forgotten. The SEDC and the city staff have been diligently working to provide new opportunities for developers who want to expand into Seabrook.
“Ýou may have noticed construction has begun on the planned retail center on SH 146 in front of The Towers luxury apartment complex. This two-building center will be known as The Commons and will be able to accommodate a number of new retail locations…There has also been outstanding interest by many new businesses that have a desire to move to Seabrook, and we remain optimistic these businesses will make Seabrook their new home.