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Abandon hope, all ye who drive here

Just stay away. Far, far away.

Houston’s worst chokepoint is about to be a construction zone for the next five or six years, in the hopes that drivers eventually reap the rewards.

Federal, state and local lawmakers gathered Monday on the HOV ramp overlooking the Loop 610 interchange with Interstate 69 near Uptown, to kick off reconstruction of the interchange. Major work is expected to start early next year, with some construction already noticeable, according to Texas Department of Transportation officials.

The interchange is the crossing point for most congested roadway segment in Texas – Loop 610 from I-69 to Interstate 10 – and the third-most-congested segment in the state, along I-69 from Loop 610 to Texas 288. As a result, officials say the interchange is Texas’ worst for slowing traffic to a crawl.

“This project is going to help change that,” said Quincy Allen, district engineer for TxDOT in Houston.

The interchange rebuild will make all the ramps between the two freeways in all directions two lanes, add shoulders and rebuild the main lanes of Loop 610 and make other design changes that officials said will help traffic flow through the area.

Work is expected to take six years.

Emphasis mine. My in-laws live near this interchange. We may need to tell them that they have to move. I don’t have any advice to offer the poor wretches who have to travel this way, but I do have one stray observation: It sure would be nice to have some alternate transit options through that area, which don’t depend on road capacity, wouldn’t it? You know, like the University and Uptown rail lines. Maybe next time. In the meantime, avoid if you can. If you can’t, may God have mercy on your soul.

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3 Comments

  1. voter_worker says:

    Whatever benefit may accrue from this project after completion, no one can convince me that SIX YEARS of disruption can ever be compensated for. Begley’s articles on this project always fail to look at the awful scenario of this project underway in tandem with the other disaster, the rebuild of 59, 288, 45 and 10 from the Spur to Downtown and beyond. From a driver’s point of view this may be the last “happy Thanksgiving” for a decade or more.

  2. Kris Overstreet says:

    Adding lanes isn’t addressing the core problem of the 610/59 interchange. That problem is CROSSING TRAFFIC- people shifting lanes to reach exits for Chimney Rock, Westheimer and Wesleyan. Since people trying to hit those exits have to cross three or four lanes of traffic in a quarter mile’s distance, adding more lanes will only make that problem worse. Unless new ramps are added to carry traffic for those exits away from the interchange somehow, this will be six wasted years and millions of dollars burned for no good purpose.

  3. Mark Kerrissey says:

    What a mess. And our traffic mess has been around since I moved here in 1982. I must say my family has benefited from the light rail program. As you said, we need alternative ways to move people in that area. Just pouring concrete might be good for the road construction companies but not for the commuters.

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