The view toward downtown along 288 during more peaceful times.EXPAND
The view toward downtown along 288 during more peaceful times.
Photo by D.L. via Flickr

290 Is Getting Closer to Completion, What About 288?

It has become a favorite pastime of Houstonians to complain about the ongoing construction on US 290. After all, the project has been underway for seven years. It also hasn't helped that the city's near and not-so-near northwest side has grown rapidly over the last decade. TxDot would argue that was the very point of expansion. It's just been so painful for anyone who has to live, work or drive anywhere near it.

But, what about the southeast side of town? While it hasn't had the hyper development that its neighbors on the direct opposite side of town have, places like Pearland are booming. Naturally, that must mean an expansion is in order. This project, however, is a quite a bit different from 290.

Construction between the insane 59/288/45 interchange, which will undergo its own hell-on-earth revamping beginning in 2020, and the Harris County line began over a year ago and is slated to continue through the middle of 2019. The most recent change was the demolishing of the Southmore bridge, which provided a pretty convenient crossing point for residents (not to worry, they will rebuild it).

This is not a traditional freeway expansion as we have seen on 290 and Interstate 10 or what we will see with Interstate 45 in the coming years. This is a tollway expansion. TxDot is adding toll lanes to the entire stretch of roadway. From the 288 website:

A better commute is just a project away. The SH 288 Toll Lanes Expansion aims to implement improved functionality of 10.3 miles of SH 288, from US 59 to the Harris County line at Clear Creek. By constructing new toll lanes, installing toll infrastructure and establishing toll operations and maintenance, SH 288 will handle traffic better than ever before.

That is, of course, true unless you don't want to pay a toll. Now, maybe that will lessen the overall traffic on the freeway because some will choose the toll road, but we have to wonder if it will address the bigger issue of expansion as that entire region continues to grow.

Regardless, it's underway and TxDot has pledged it will take no longer than 1,000 days to complete, which comes due next summer. By comparison, 290 is running one year over the projected completion date of 2018, but they had three of the worst floods of the last 30 years to deal with and it was a substantially larger project overall. The irony is it should now be finished about the same time 288 is. Hopefully, the additions to 288 will help alleviate congestion between downtown and Pearland, though it might cost you.

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