Major roadway upgrades, closures shared from Port Arthur through Orange

Published 11:30 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

Road work along highways is not a new sight for Southeast Texans, as various projects are in the works.

But an upcoming date stands out, according to Texas Department of Transportation Beaumont District Engineer Martin Gonzalez.

The date, Oct. 28, is when TxDOT permanently closes the southeast corner loop that takes drivers from Texas 73 eastbound to U.S. 69 northbound. This is due to construction of the U.S.69/Texas 73 interchange improvement or turbine.

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Also closing, but only temporarily, is the connector that takes drivers from U.S. 69 northbound to Texas 73 eastbound.

Gonzalez said this connector would be reconstructed and reopened at a later date.

Another pertinent area to travelers that will eventually change is just down the road from this area.

“We’re still waiting on the date for the closure of the southwest corner loop. Before that can close, we have to finish some improvements at Spur 215, otherwise known as Savannah Avenue,” Gonzalez said.

The current completion date for the turbine is 2027, weather permitting, he said.

Texas 73 between U.S. 69 and 9th Avenue is down to one lane in each direction due to bridge maintenance, and TxDOT anticipates those lanes reopening before they close the next loop of the cloverleaf.

Gonzalez, who was one of nine speakers during the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Transportation Summit, said one upcoming project that would be of interest to all in attendance is maintenance to the Rainbow Bridge.

Audience members listen to various transportation-related issues during the summit. (Mary Meaux/The News)

“This project is anticipated to begin in spring or early summer next year, and it’ll take approximately a year and a half to complete,” he said. “Then a contractor is going to be performing an extensive amount of maintenance on the bridge, including rail repairs and structural steel repairs. So that’s going to require traffic to be detoured.”

TxDOT staff is working on details for the detour.

Another main issue regarding roadways in the area is traffic congestion on Texas 87 from Sabine Pass to Port Arthur, he said.

TxDOT performed a feasibility study to look at alternate routes to take drivers down Texas 87 to Texas 73, and those options cost anywhere from $350 to $650 million.

The agency is upgrading the signals at Texas 82 and Texas 87 intersection — what is sometimes referred to as the Gate 19 intersection due to passing through industrial areas.

“These upgrades should help traffic flow more smoothly along that corridor, he said.

Other highway work

TxDOT has been working to expand Interstate 10 from four to six lanes throughout a large portion of the Beaumont District. Currently, the segments between Beaumont and Winnie are scheduled for completion in 2026.

“The segment in Orange is scheduled to be completed in 2025,” Gonzalez said. “And I know it has been a rough go at it, and we really appreciate your patience. We’ve had some issues with construction, some complications.”

Gonzalez said sometimes when people pass by and see no activity they believe work is not going on, but there are reasons for this, such as allowing different things to settle and also to deal with the soil conditions in the area.

“We have to allow the ground to settle everything that we place, and then we’re able to come back,” he said.

In addition to that, TxDOT sometimes encounters utility conflicts and challenges with construction.

Gonzalez has heard the non-favorable comments about the conditions of the roads in Orange.

“I’ve heard that going through Orange I-10, you don’t even need to go to Disney World because you can just go on those roller coasters and feel those bumps,” he said as some in the room laughed in agreement.

“We’re doing our best to make sure we fix those things. We’re working on it.”

Another area closer to Beaumont is the I-10/U.S 69/Cardinal Drive interchange project underway, which is scheduled to be completed by 2029. The project has completely reconstructed the interchange as well as widening it from Walden Road in Beaumont to the Hollywood overpass.

Ron Arceneaux, former chairperson for the Chamber and chair of the Transportation Committee, said they pushed for the reconstruction of the U.S 69/Texas 73 interchange, also known as the cloverleaf for 20 years.

The group has also promoted additional lighting for U.S. 69 from FM 365 to 39th Street and is promoting a study by TxDOT for relieving congestion at the U.S. 69/FM 365 interchange.

“Our Transportation Committee works with local transportation officials from the City of Port Arthur, TxDOT, Port of Port Arthur, Port of Sabine Pass, Jefferson County Judge and Commissioners, the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission, and Jack Brooks Regional Airport to assess their current planning for future projects and to convey our Committee’s issues and concerns regarding the modernization of our infrastructure,” Arceneaux said.

The goal is to support businesses and industry to ensure the networks offer efficient mobility for the citizens as well as efficient access to our refining, petrochemical, facilities, ports and LNG industries in the Sabine Pass area.