BEAUMONT, Texas — The traffic troubles have begun for Southeast Texans traveling south into Beaumont from Hardin County,
The exit ramp to Dowlen Road from southbound U.S. Highway 69 as well as the entrance ramp onto the southbound highway will be closed for the next three months, according to TxDOT.
Both ramps are near Parkdale Mall where the frontage road will be shut down to only one lane while the ramps are closed for construction.
The Dowlen exit ramp is just south of Texas Highway 105 while the on-ramp is in front of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant.
The construction closures are part of the U.S. Highway 69 widening project
The project is set to widen the highway from two lanes to three lanes in each direction from the U.S. 69/Interstate 10 split to the Lower Neches Valley Authority canal, according to TXDOT spokesperson Sarah Dupre. The project began at the end of 2018 and should be finished by the end of 2023.
Evacuating during hurricane season is one of the many reasons why TxDOT decided to widen the highway.
"We also have a lot of freight traveling down US-69 as well. Whether it be military freight, wood, things like that going down to the port all the way to Tyler County," Dupre said.
Drivers like Sallie Nesmit said they've been inconvenienced by this closure.
Nesmit injured herself so she relies on rideshare services like Uber and Lyft to get to her job at Walmart. Ever since the road closure, she's had some problems with her drivers.
"Well what happens too is that they miss the turn and have to go all the way back around and so they make me late is normally what happens," Nesmit said.
Nesmit is now taking the bus but has noticed a lot of confusion among drivers.
"It's a little bit dangerous too if you're not already familiar with the layout," Nesmit said. "If you're new I've noticed that people run into all those posts and everything thinking that there's a lane over there. They can actually enter the freeway with when there's not."
Depending on what time of day you drive near Parkdale Mall, drivers could hit some major traffic delays.
Southbound drivers wanting to exit for Dowlen will need to take the Texas Highway 105 exit about a half mile ahead of the Dowlen exit ramp.
They can then stay on the frontage road, which will be down to one lane, to access Dowlen Rod.
Drivers can turn right from the frontage road onto Rosedale Driver or Cole Road and then make a left to head south on Old Dowlen Road which will take the to Dowlen Road near the Super Walmart.
Drivers looking to enter southbound U.S. Highway 69 from Texas 105 or Parkdale Mall will need to stay on the frontage road heading south, cross Dowlen Rd, and then use the on the ramp about a mile south of the existing on-ramp just north of Lucas Drive.
The ramps along Eastex Freeway are expected to re-open in April.
Another project is handling the widening of the highway from the canal to Tram Rd., according to Dupre.
Eventually, the department plans to widen all of U.S. Highway 69 in the Beaumont district which extends through Tyler County.