When Will Houston's 290 Traffic Nightmare End?
Map of construction sections along 290...or Death Alley as we refer to it.
The short answer is 2017, but that doesn't really begin to cover the mangled mess that is Highway 290 from the 610 Loop way out to somewhere near Hempstead or maybe Austin. According to TXDOT, the 38-mile stretch of Highway 290 being currently destroyed and rebuilt will be completed by 2017, but portions of it will be done much sooner, as soon as early next year.
From 2920 all the way to the Loop, 290 is undergoing the kind of massive overhaul necessary to both fix a badly congested freeway and bring misery to anyone who lives and works in the area...at least in the short term. The good news is that the section that impacts more people than any other -- the 610/290/I-10 interchange -- is slated to be finished in early 2015.
Even more good news, the now harrowing journey between each freeway where merging becomes a kind of life an death struggle over the span of less than a mile will also be brought to a close. The new interchange will include a series of ramps that will direct traffic from one freeway to another without the Mad Max-style eight lanes of merging at your own risk that now awaits drivers. It should be a huge help to anyone wanting to remain on 610 or go, for example, from 290 to Interstate 10 without having to deal with Galleria traffic.
As for the rest of 290, that depends on the section. The farthest reaches of the project are not yet underway while others, particularly the area around Beltway 8, are nearly halfway complete. The stretch between the aforementioned interchange and the Beltway still appear to be a couple years off given neither of them are more than 15 percent finished according to the 290 construction website.
The entire project is slated for completion by 2017, which would seem to indicate those areas inside the Beltway would be done on the earlier end of that timeline, especially when the interchange is finished.
For now, we all just have to deal with the hassle and hope the changes will be substantial enough for us to actually want to live and work along this freeway. We can certainly dream.