The Slow and the Furious: Freeway Closures Again This Weekend

We don't recommend leaping from one car to another, but won't blame you if you drive a tank.
We don't recommend leaping from one car to another, but won't blame you if you drive a tank. Movie Still from The Fast and Furious
For weeks and weeks Houstonians have dealt with freeway closures...make that years and years. Fortunately, most are at night when the majority of us are sleeping. But, often, they will seep into the daylight and you realize vampires really can exist in sunlight.

This weekend brings a pair of annoying closures, both part of the ongoing and probably never ending overhaul to the West Loop. There are already narrowed lanes, flyovers with cliff-edge endings and we think tunnels leading to Houston's sinister underworld? But now, innocent nearby freeways are being forced to deal.

I-69 Southbound from Newcastle to South Rice (closed Friday night to Monday morning)

It's only one of the busiest stretches of road in the city at all hours of the day and night. We swear we were on there one night at midnight — just trying to exit to 610 North and go home, man — and, by the time we got home a few miles away, our kids were grown.

Still, TxDot's "suggestion" is traffic go north on 610, exit San Felipe (because no one would wish exiting Westheimer on their worst enemy even if it meant saving the human race from total destruction), U-turn and head back to 69 from there. What could possible go wrong? We'll tell you what, mister. When those ladies who brunch find out they are blocked from Uptown and bottomless mimosas by some stupid traffic you better hope to hell you aren't within a 10-mile radius.

US 290 Exit to 610 Southbound (closed Friday night until Monday Morning)

When 290 was "completed" (yeah, we know), one of the new fun little obstacle courses was the exits for I-10 and 610. We had heard about people crossing four lanes of traffic going 90 mph just to make an exit before, but we had never seen it in the wild until we were on 290 and watched several desperate people who just had to get back to Katy screech across the entire freeway to make that I-10 connector.

So, whenever they need to close the exit to 610 south (and they do it fairly frequently), the pained looks on the faces of people who have just realized instead of the Galleria, they are being shuttled onto the North Loop toward the Heights, is, well, priceless. They've gone from seeing and being seen at hot spots near the Galleria to carrying canvas bags into the new Shepherd H-E-B for organic produce. The horror.

Perhaps funniest is TxDot's idea of a detour: Take the 610 North Loop all the way to I-45 through downtown to 69 South. Sure, that's a good plan. You let us know how that works out for you.

Good luck.
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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