Four Stretches of Houston Highway to Avoid At All Times

Welcome to your nightmare.
Welcome to your nightmare. Photo by Zach Despart
There always seems to be some kind of road construction going on here in Houston. It's something we are all forced to endure. But, there are also portions of freeway that are untenable at nearly every hour of every day, construction or not. They are the four stretches of road that are to be avoided at all costs.

We could list tons of side streets as well (maybe we will at some point), but there are often alternatives. In certain instances, the highway might be your only option and if one of these four below is it, we pray for you.

4. I-10 Eastbound approaching downtown.

You can thank the brilliant freeway planners for this mess. As I-10 gets close to I-45, there are three lanes available to keep you moving east. But, if like a huge majority of people, you need to get onto I-45, particularly going south into downtown, you get one lane to do it, the second from the left. Imagine people at all times of the day, first, trying to figure out what the hell lane they need to be in and, second, realizing they have to get across three lanes in one-quarter mile to make their exit. Put that in motion during rush hour or at noon on a Sunday and you get chaos followed by gridlock.

3. I-69 Southbound approaching Spur 527.

Maybe it's the museum district or the Medical Center. Maybe it is the pretty colored bridge lights. We aren't sure. But, whatever the cause, this rather brief stretch of highway is a nightmare from dawn to dusk and often in between. Honestly, there always seems to be a stalled car and the rubber cones they put up to delineate between the 527 exit and the rest of the highway were probably crushed within two weeks of their appearance because, as a side note, people along this stretch drive like maniacs.

2. Pierce Elevated south through the 69/288 interchange and back.

Between now and probably 2050, the renovations being planned to 45 and 59 in and around downtown are sure to drive us insane, but could it be worse than what we have right now (hint: yes, yes it could)? The tangle of freeways is the worst interchange in the city and when you tack on the slow down along Pierce, well, the whole thing is hot garbage. Don't go near it. Don't even look at it from the skyscraper window where you have your office. It will only make you sad.

1. The West Loop between I-69 and I-10.

We would like to say that the traffic southbound is the worst anywhere at any time. And, make no mistake, it's awful. It still ranks as one of the most dangerous intersections in the state in terms of accidents. But, TxDOT is actually planning to make that intersection better (fingers crossed). What the hell are we supposed to do about what happens northbound near I-10? It's amazing that something as simple as a freeway exit could confound people to the point that they come to a near standstill in the middle of the highway, but it happens morning noon and night. We don't have any numbers to back this up, but we assume the life expectancy for those who live and work around the Galleria must be significantly shorter than the rest of us simply because of the traffic.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke