For a week or so -- and for the next three months -- drivers have been dealing with the closure of Smith Street between Franklin and Congress while TxDOT does some bridge repair.
One block: No big deal, right?
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It turns out that block of Smith Street is apparently the most crucial block in all of downtown blockdom. People trying to get downtown from I-10, from the I-45 HOV lane, drivers trying to get on the highway, they're all frantically switching lanes, if "frantically" can be used for slow-motion cutting into a long line of standing cars waiting to move forward on a ramp.
Luckily, the TxDOT solutions for the situation are horribly complicated. How complicated? The easiest one ends like this: "This is a very direct route but it will also be used by many so getting through that first light may take a couple of cycles."
FWIW, here they are. And remember -- have fun!!
Alternate routes for IH-10 commuters are as follows.
1. IH-10 HOV Inbound - The IH-10 HOV takes off from the inside lane of IH-10 after the Taylor St. exit just after you pass the Heights. The ramp is open to single occupancy vehicles for the duration of the Smith St. closure as it is a great way to enter downtown and avoid the detour. The HOV is a wide two-way bridge that takes you to Franklin St. under the IH-45 bridge near the post office and just north of the Aquarium. You will cross that street (the first traffic signal) and follow the signs to Preston. You will soon be at Smith St. just after the closure and can turn right to continue into downtown on your usual route.
This is a very direct route but it will also be used by many so getting through that first light may take a couple of cycles.
2. IH-10 to the Shepherd/Durham exit - Take the exit and turn right at the light. Go to Memorial or Allen Parkway. Watch the signs at Memorial and cross over it, take the ramp to the right to follow the street around and back under the bridge and on to downtown. Memorial becomes Texas and you will continue to Smith where you will turn right to be back to your usual route.
You can also continue past Memorial and turn left at Allen Parkway. Allen Parkway become Dallas St. as it enters downtown and you will be in the center of the business district and can turn right on Smith. If you do not know the street names that well but know you always drive past the library and the Hyatt then this could be the best route as you will miss all the congestion associated with the detour.
3. Drivers that can easily access US-59 could take it into the city and take Spur 527 to Louisiana to miss the congestion in the north end of downtown. Louisiana is the street next to Smith but goes north into downtown after you drive through Midtown.
4. If you come in on US-290 and use IH-610 South to IH-10 and want to avoid the back up on IH-10 then take IH-610 East to IH-45 South and follow the Downtown Destination signs to the Milam exit. Take Milam to Prairie and turn right to Smith then left on Smith to be back to your usual route.
5. If you take one of the exits from IH-10 to go south like described above in Alternate 2 for Shepherd/Durham then the first route before Memorial into downtown is Washington. If you take it then you will arrive in downtown where many others are trying to get around the closure. If you are after the morning rush then Washington could be as good as the others. If you do take Washington then watch as you approach the IH-45 bridge and follow the sign to Preston to continue to Smith. Turn right on Smith to your usual route.