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No construction pain, no roadway gain.

A short stretch of eastbound I-10 near downtown will be completely closed all weekend. It will re-open Monday morning, but with only one through lane.

The good news is that the oldest, most-patched stretch of Houston’s I-10 is finally getting a new roadbed. The bad news is that the 2.2 mile interstate stretch downtown, between I-45 and U.S. 59, is going to be under construction for the next 18 months.

The complete closure of the eastbound side starts at 9 p.m. tonight and ends at 5 a.m. Monday. Crews will be re-striping lanes and putting up barriers for the work to come.

On Monday, the road reopens but the eastbound capacity will drop by 50 percent, from the normal two through lanes to just one. That will last about three months, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Unfortunately it’s going to be a challenging time for us in terms of mobility,” said TxDOT spokeswoman Raquelle Lewis.

Federal stimulus dollars are paying for the $18 million project.

“It certainly is time,” said Lewis. “We’ve just been patching and making sure we keep it functional and maintaining it to the best of our ability, but after a certain period of time you have to go in.”

128,200 vehicles per day

This is the last segment of I-10 inside the Loop that needs work. Reconstruction of the western portion, between I-45 and the West Loop, ended in 1999. The eastern portion, from the Eastex to the East Loop, was repaved and that work finished in 2007, Lewis said. Work continues on I-10 east of the East Loop.

The highway carries 128,200 vehicles every day, and almost 10 percent of that is truck traffic, which breaks down the road surface more quickly.

For this weekend, drivers are encouraged to avoid the area entirely. But detours will be available: eastbound motorists can take 45 South and loop around downtown, to rejoin I-10 on the East Side. Or they can take 45 North, exit at North Main and U-turn back to 45 South to access I-10 eastbound.

Lewis encouraged drivers to be patient and take the long view: “When the pavement is in good shape, that means it’s a safer commute for all drivers and a more efficient commute,” Lewis said.

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