In this series, I take a look at places around Houston to avoid during rush hour and offer some alternatives that might keep you from going road rage and killing somebody.
For years there was no exit off of I-10 going east for Heights Boulevard. To get there, you had to exit Studemont and u-turn. But adding a new exit was the least of Heights residents' worries. They got to do battle with a Walmart that set up shop just south of the freeway along Yale. Along with it came many chain restaurants and shops. There's even a Starbucks!
Unfortunately, it did exactly what residents in the area feared. It created a logjam of traffic during rush hour. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the lights along the feeder are long for certain directions and extremely short for others. Never mind the fact that big trucks are not supposed to drive on the Yale bridge because the state has said it is dangerous. And never mind that the area is made more popular by the proliferation of restaurants and shops in both the Heights and the Sixth Ward along Washington Avenue.
The fact is, this interchange is a mess and it shouldn't be. After all the construction, it was supposed to be easier to get in and out on both Heights Boulevard and Yale. It's not. It's more difficult.
Location: Interstate 10 Feeder Road at Heights Boulevard and Yale Street Direction: All Directions Time of Day: Rush hours Probable Destinations: Heights, Washington Avenue, Walmart Landmarks: Subway, a treacherous bridge, chain restaurants
What's the holdup?
The lights going in pretty much all directions at this multi-street interchange underneath Interstate 10 are screwy. The lights going north and south on both Yale and Heights take way too long and hold up traffic on streets that are too small to support the kind of traffic they have. Perhaps no one realized how popular both the Heights and the Sixth Ward would be. They were wrong. Easiest Alternative:
Just one exit to the west of this hot mess of afternoon traffic is Shepherd Drive and Durham Drive, four-lane pleasure cruises going north and south from I-10. Sure, there is some construction, but the alternative is long waits in ridiculous traffic from Walmart and Washington Avenue. Which would you prefer?
Taking an early (or late) exit from I-10 onto Taylor and into the Heights -- or south off toward Sixth Ward -- is probably an easier choice. The complication comes in the narrow streets to the north and railroad tracks to the south, but it is probably worth it considering how much traffic you'll avoid.
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More Adventurous Alternative:
TC Jester to the West and North Main to the East.
Either way, it's a more interesting route. TC Jester is a freaking empty highway compared to Heights and Yale. North Main with its taquerias and refresquerias is a welcome option to the bottleneck to the west. Plus, you can stop and grab some elote on the way.
Have a favorite (or least favorite) traffic hotspot? Drop a note in the comments.