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Florida Keys Reopen as Texas Clears Out

September 22, 2005

Florida Keys Reopen as Texas Clears Out
September 22, 2005 – Officials in the Florida Keys report that visitors could begin returning as early as Friday, Sept. 23 to the area. This report comes as Texans are fleeing Category 5 Hurricane Rita.

Although damage from Hurricane Rita was light to the Keys, a Friday return would allow accommodations and tourist facilities to do necessary cleanups and undo protective actions. Travel Agent reports that Monroe County Tourist Development Council Director Harold Wheeler said, "Most of our tourism facilities should be up and running within a matter of days."

The Texas Department of Transportation is making changes to ease highway traffic for evacuees. All lanes of Interstate 45 will flow northbound from Houston to Buffalo, about 130 miles north of the Bayou City.

Gov. Rick Perry made the decision Thursday morning to alleviate bumper-to-bumper evacuation traffic on the primary evacuation route.

KPRC Local 2 has reported that northbound traffic on I-45 is bumper-to-bumper for up to 100 miles north of Houston.

Once the changes on Interstate 45 have been implemented, road authorities will begin setting up similar plans on Highway 290, which leads to Bryan/College Station and Austin, and on Interstate 10 toward San Antonio.

Gbur and Cox said this is the first time the state has ever taken such a step.

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