So how is traffic on the Katy Freeway now that the expansion has been officially completed?
Pretty good -- if you ask the people in charge of it.
The Texas Transportation Institute has done a study at the request of TxDOT and found what it's calling "significant improvement."
Evening commuters on the 20-mile trip between the West Loop and State Highway 99 are saving six to 17 minutes a night, the study says. In the morning, the drivers are saving three to 26 minutes. (That's a pretty big spread of minutes.)
As project spokeswoman Tanya McWashington puts it:
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In June 2008, drivers were averaging speeds of 33 MPH and travel times of 36 minutes during morning commutes between SH 99 and the West Loop. Afternoon commutes were averaging 35 MPH with travel times of 34 minutes. With the completion of construction, morning commuters are now averaging speeds of 58 MPH and travel times of 21 minutes with afternoon commuters averaging 54 MPH and travel times of 22 minutes when traveling this same distance. This translates to almost 2 ½ hours per work week that commuters are given back valuable time to spend in other ways besides sitting in traffic.
"We are pleased about the recent survey results that tells drivers are saving as much as 40-45 minutes a day on their round-trip commutes," TxDot engineer Delvin Dennis said.
Just from anecdotal evidence, it does seem that things are better heading west in the evening rush hour. But good Lord, there's a ton of concrete out there, so we guess times had better be improved.
-- Richard Connelly