SEABROOK, Texas (FOX 26) - The main entryway into the City of Seabrook will soon look different. Major changes are in the works for State Highway 146 where there are businesses and often bumper-to-bumper traffic as far as the eye can see. In an effort to relieve the congestion, Hwy. 146 is getting a makeover and the 'mom and pop' shops, like Neptune's Subs which has been in the city since 1978, will not be there much longer.
Donald's Donuts has been on Hwy. 146 for 18 years and customers have been right there with them.
"I go over to their place on holidays," says Denny Jensen. "I've been coming here so long, they know all my kids and grandkids. I know all theirs."
"They bought me a t-shirt for Christmas," adds customer Cliff Kirmss. "Whoever does that in a donut shop?"
"This is my grandmother, she's the owner of this amazing place," says a smiling Eric Loong with one arm around his grandmother, the Donald's Donuts owner. "She wakes up every day at midnight, comes into work, makes everything fresh."
As part of the Texas Department of Transportation Highway 146 Expansion Project, the road will be widened from Red Bluff to FM 96 and the businesses there will be torn down.
"The NASA Road 1, 146 intersection as we see it today will have two elevated structures going over that piece of it," explains Seabrook City Manager Gayle Cook. "So anywhere from Red Bluff forward will have eight to twelve lanes."
"I'm not too happy about that," says resident Ryan Simmons. "I like the way Seabrook is right now. I like how it feels."
"I'm not a huge fan of of them expanding 146," adds PJ Panos. "I've lived here since I was 10., so I kind of like it as a small town and not having a giant freeway."
"Yes, we're going to lose some of our old established businesses and it's a shame," says Seabrook Mayor Tom Kolupski. "We're trying to keep them here, find a place for them but with progress comes change."
Mayor Kolupski says expanding Hwy. 146 is actually what most Seabrook residents want.
"I'm for it because the traffic right now is terrible," says one man. "It takes like 15 minutes just to go two blocks."
"This is going to be unlike any other highway project TxDOT has done," says Mayor Kolupski with a smile. In fact, where most freeways are just concrete walls, the sides of the the new Seabrook highway will be just as scenic as the city itself.
The businesses being shut down are receiving a bit of compensation from the Texas Department of Transportation and they are already starting to close.
"Whataburger, McDonald's already got their dates to close," says Loong. "Taco Bell, Sonic they're closed. CVS closes at the end of this month. Neptune's Subs, he's retiring. Mario's is closing. It's pretty scary. All these local business owners having to shut down and hoping their new location is going to do good."
Union Pacific was one of the last hold outs, refusing to give up its land but TxDOT settled with the railroad company last week.
To learn where the businesses along State Highway 146 will relocate, visit sh146.com.
City officials say widening Hwy. 146 will help with daily mobility and during an emergency because the highway is an evacuation route.
The 146 expansion is scheduled to begin late summer 2018 and will take 3-to-4 years to complete.