Carmageddon Again This Weekend on Houston Area Freeways

I-69 this weekend (we assume).
I-69 this weekend (we assume). Screenshot
When you think about major traffic on Houston's freeways, there are a few spots that always seem to come to mind. Two of the absolute worst are a pair of interchanges: I-45/I-69/288 and 610/I-69. They have always been mind-numbingly catastrophic. One, a tangled mess of merging lanes going seemingly every direction at once — like M.C. Escher meets a Rube Goldberg machine built purely for sadistic purpose — and the other, an insane, merge-at-your-own-peril convergence of rabid luxury mall shoppers, frustrated white collar workers and middle aged rich dudes in overpriced sports cars.

Much to our great misfortune, both of those interchanges will be under massive renovations for the next five to ten years. It's a bit like a pair of perpetual hurricanes hovering over two of the most heavily trafficked portions of the city for a decade, unrelenting and unsympathetic to our collective despair.

This weekend is yet another consequence of those gigantic construction projects and the havoc they have begun to wreak on us, the innocent bystanders in this slow, torturous drive-by mugging.

To start, I-45 through downtown going southbound, what we know as the Pierce Elevated (going south anyway) will be closed. Don't go there. Don't go near there. Don't even think about it because it only grows stronger with your thoughts. If you planned to go to Galveston, assume it is closed too. Or take a helicopter or a teleportation device, assuming you live inside Star Trek.

(But, seriously, you can still go to Galveston if you want. Just give downtown a VERY wide birth.)

Also, on the south side of downtown, the connector from I-69 to I-45 going northbound? Closed all weekend too. Nobody wants you down there, man. Avoid. And if that weren't bad enough, go a bit southeast of downtown past the Med Center and you'll see they are permanently closing the connections off 288 to the South Loop starting Friday. PERMANENT! That's like forever. We don't know why. It's just happening.

Finally, we have the West Loop. Let's start with the fact that the frontage road (round these here parts, we call it a feder), along I-69 between the Loop and South Rice will close starting Saturday until April. It's not forever, but if you live or work over there, it might feel like it.

Then there is the big mess. I-69's connections to the 610 Loop will be closed all weekend. Those exits are already a freaking disaster even at like 3 a.m. on a Tuesday (don't ask us how we know), so this should create additional apocalyptic chaos. The best part is the suggested alternate route from TxDOT: Detour via IH 69 Northbound main lanes and take exit toward Weslayan Street. Traffic to use the U-turn at Weslayan and continue onto the entrance ramp to IH-69 Southbound main lanes.

Are they kidding? U-turn at Weslayan? Have they ever been on Weslayan? Besides church goers to Lakewood and movie buffs heading to the Edwards, never mind all the people going to Highland Village, we assume to buy some expensive produce at Central Market and three to four iPhones at the Apple Store, you have a mess on most days. Add in this crazy u-turn business and it's bona fide pandemonium.

Look, we don't want to tell you what to do, but we recommend you stay home, keep your loved ones close and eat lots of carbs. It doesn't matter any more. We'd say it will all be over soon, but only if soon to you means a decade or you are a time traveler. The rest of us will try not to suffer alone.
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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