Anyone who has had the unfortunate luck of spending even a few minutes on Highway 290 between the North Loop and Cypress knows that "gridlock" can be a relative term. As the expansion of the ever congested thoroughfare continues through the end of 2017, all Houston drivers can do is lament the closures and do their best to avoid the area. If you don't live or work on the northwest side of town, that certainly helps.
But what is going to happen when what is arguably the worst freeway interchange in the state of Texas is rebuilt will make the 290 construction traffic look like a broken stoplight at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday night in the country.
As part of a billion-dollar plan for highway congestion relief across the state with plans dating back to 2013, Houston will see $447 million in expansions to area freeways including Interstate 10 in Katy and Interstate 45 South between Clear Lake and Galveston. But for most Houstonians, the greatest concern will be the plan to completely redo the interchange at US 59 and the West Loop. It is one of the most congested interchanges in the state of Texas thanks to its proximity to the Galleria and one of the most affluent parts of Houston.
Given how awful the traffic is at nearly every hour of every day, the change should be welcome, but it comes at a price. The project is expected to take four years beginning in 2017. For those who aren't great at math, that means we will be dealing with a mess on the southwest corner of the Loop through 2021. For perspective, the miles-long stretch of 290 has been under construction for four years already and it has felt like a decade. Now, apply that torture to the most congested freeway intersection in Texas.
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So, get ready, drivers. It's going to be a long four years. And, if you live in the already terribly traffic-laden Galleria area, our best advice is to consider moving.