Drivers Prepare For Major Traffic Closure In East Harris County

There will be a major traffic shutdown in east Harris County over the next three weekends. The Washburn Tunnel under the Houston Ship Channel is closing Fridays through Sundays. That's so crews can repair damage from an accident that happened a year and a half ago.

The entrance to the Washburn Tunnel was damaged in September 2010 when the driver of an oversized truck thought he could make it through.

"He hit the north portal wall and severely damaged the brick and the metal, what's called a lintel, which is a U-shaped piece of metal that's behind the brick."  

Gail Miller with Harris County Precinct 2 says the damage wasn't serious enough to close the tunnel, so they were able to keep it open until insurance claims were settled. Miller says they also had to find the proper materials to make the repairs. That's because of the tunnel's historic status. The 60-year-old tunnel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008 because of its unique trench design. 

"Any changes to a historic building have to be run by the Texas Historical Commission, and they have to be matched in terms of brickwork."

The Lynchberg ferry will have expanded hours of operation while the tunnel is closed. Other alternate routes over the Ship Channel include the East 610 Loop,  the Sam Houston Parkway toll bridge and the Highway 146 Fred Hartman Bridge. During the week the Washburn Tunnel carries up to 27,000 vehicles a day between Galena Park and Pasadena.

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...