Traffic. We all hate it. We hate the stopping and starting. We hate the construction. We hate all of it. But it is price we pay for living in a city spread out over 600 square miles.
But that doesn't always adequately explain the nightmare of traffic intersections. It's one thing to be trapped on an under-construction freeway at rush hour, another to have to suffer through a stop light that goes through multiple cycles before you can escape, or, worse yet, to sit at an intersection where you literally have no idea how or where to turn.
Not surprisingly, Houston has its fair share of messy street crossings. Here, we humbly submit nine of the most hideous.
Richmond at Weslayan
In truth, the Richmond part of this intersection isn't the problem. But Weslayan is such a mess, it's impossible to ignore. Already a high-traffic area with US 59 less than a mile away, it is complicated by a busy couple of shopping centers and a big movie theater. Traffic most times is bad; during rush hour, it's awful.
Bellaire at Bissonnet/South Rice, Mykawa at Griggs/Long
Why does anyone design a set of streets that meet in a triangle formation? That's exactly what these two psychotic intersections do. In the case of Bellaire, it slants across both Bissonnet and South Rice, creating a bizarre triangle of stores in the middle. Mykawa, north of the South Loop, is even more strange, dead-ending into Griggs just a block after it crosses Long. The designer of these must have been a sadist.
Westheimer at Post Oak
Some intersections are simply a pain in the ass because of traffic. If you're not from Houston, welcome to the Galleria area. Despite the fact that both roads are wider than average, traffic in the area can slow to a crawl at most times. And don't even think about traversing it around Christmas.
Lamar/Dallas at Crawford/Avenida De Las Americas
Go back to the early 1990s and this section of downtown would have the feel of an old west town covered in concrete. Even the George R. Brown Convention Center, which may have been confused for an inland cruise ship when it opened in 1987, couldn't do much to improve the surroundings. But when Minute Maid Park was built, followed by Toyota Center, a new Hilton convention center hotel and the beautiful Discovery Green Park, this area became wildly popular and this pair of complicated intersections became all the more challenging.
Main/Old Spanish Trail at Kirby
One more in the saga of the complicated urban triangle — once thought of as only myth and legend — is right near Reliant Park, making "game day" or "Rodeo month" seem like "hell week." OST, as the locals call it, splits off from Main going north toward the Medical Center, but both cross Kirby to the north. Try giving directions to anyone heading into the area at your own peril.
Westheimer at Dunlavy, Westheimer at Shepherd
In all honesty, this could perhaps be titled "Westheimer at any intersection between Taft and Kirby," but these two are particularly weird. The cross at Dunlavy is in what is essentially the midpoint of lower Westheimer, ringed in shops and restaurants and dotted with hipster. Shepherd is busy (now, under hellish construction), and no left turns are allowed in any direction. This pair of intersections is a particularly nasty combination of dangerous and congested.
Memorial/Allen Parkway at Shepherd
If you are cruising along Shepherd in either direction and decide to take the upper level, you get a lovely view of Buffalo Bayou, River Oaks and downtown Houston. Below is something more akin to the bowels of hell where four busy streets collide in a collection of bridges, underpasses, pedestrian traffic and confusing turns that no one seems to be able to figure out.
Sometimes, streets merge and intersect in complicated ways thanks to mother nature. What years ago may have been a dead end could become a throughway thanks to a bridge over a bayou, for example. However, this five-way (you heard me!) intersection has no excuse. Studewood crosses North Main at an oddly tight angle and very few drivers actually stay on Studewood going north, instead migrating to North Main at what amount to forks in the road in both directions. To make matters much worse, 20th, after crossing this insane merger, turns into Cavalcade, which is divided by a median. Unless you are familiar, better just to steer clear.
Richmond and Alabama at Spur 527
There is a special place in hell for whoever decided it was a good idea not only to throw an entrance ramp to a busy freeway just past Richmond heading south on Bagby, but to then add another entrance from Milam just past Alabama, and you are damn near going to incite panic on the streets. Did I mention that the Alabama entrance ramp presents drivers with three options — stay right for Richmond, middle for 527 or left for the HOV lane — none of which has decent signage until you are literally forced to make the decision at the last second? No? Good luck.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.