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Question about the building of Loop 610


mblaise

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When Loop 610 was being built in the 1960s, the main lanes stopped at Ella, restarted after TC Jester, stopped after the IH 10 interchange, went back together briefly over Buffalo Bayou, main lanes stopped after the bayou, main lanes started before westheimer, ended after the 59 interchange, etc. Why weren't the sections coordinated as one long section? I've been told each piece had its own contract. And we all remember how the IH 45 elevated was finished downtown in 64 or 65 but not opened until 67 because the end pieces weren't finished. I'd like to hear from those who can tell me why freeways were built in certain sections. Not counting the se loop near gulfgate and 225, I believe the first section of 610 opened was the us 59 sw freeway interchange and a short piece to westheimer. basically a road to nowhere and didn't connect to anything for quite a few years (1966-68 I believe). Of course there was no Galleria yet. But why build a freeway that has only one interchange and one exit? I remember my family waited for years for 610 between ella and 290 to open. All I can figure is that the main lane bridges over white oak bayou must have been difficult or expensive to build. Not sure why I can remember all these road geek things, but maybe someone else does too.

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When Loop 610 was being built in the 1960s, the main lanes stopped at Ella, restarted after TC Jester, stopped after the IH 10 interchange, went back together briefly over Buffalo Bayou, main lanes stopped after the bayou, main lanes started before westheimer, ended after the 59 interchange, etc. Why weren't the sections coordinated as one long section? I've been told each piece had its own contract. And we all remember how the IH 45 elevated was finished downtown in 64 or 65 but not opened until 67 because the end pieces weren't finished. I'd like to hear from those who can tell me why freeways were built in certain sections. Not counting the se loop near gulfgate and 225, I believe the first section of 610 opened was the us 59 sw freeway interchange and a short piece to westheimer. basically a road to nowhere and didn't connect to anything for quite a few years (1966-68 I believe). Of course there was no Galleria yet. But why build a freeway that has only one interchange and one exit? I remember my family waited for years for 610 between ella and 290 to open. All I can figure is that the main lane bridges over white oak bayou must have been difficult or expensive to build. Not sure why I can remember all these road geek things, but maybe someone else does too.

I do believe that annual funding and the land acquisition had a bit to do with it, too - they couldn't fund it all at once and it took time to buy all the land that was needed. As they acquired the right of way for a particular segment, if they had the money they went ahead built it. Partly just to get started on what was a huge project but also very much for political reasons - to keep certain political groups committed and to get the momentum to pressure others to sign on. Think about it this way - my wife is quite often less willing than I am to get started on big projects, but once I do start on something she's much more likely to want to get it finished quickly (and pay the money that is required to do it). Similarly, the people that were pushing to build the the freeways back in the day were determined to get it done and faced small pockets of opposition from a lot of different places - for instance a lot of homeowners in Bellaire didn't want to sell and certain county and state agencies would occasionally want to bicker over the priority given to a finite amount of state highway funds each year (ie keep working on the Loop or build a different freeway in Dallas).

But once they started building, the proponents could argue that cutting off funding would cause the city to end up with lingering half-built freeway and that people who were refusing to sell their houses were standing in the way of progress.

Never doubt political motivations when it comes to something like this, regardless of how "illogical" it may seem.

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When Loop 610 was being built in the 1960s, the main lanes stopped at Ella, restarted after TC Jester, stopped after the IH 10 interchange, went back together briefly over Buffalo Bayou, main lanes stopped after the bayou, main lanes started before westheimer, ended after the 59 interchange, etc. Why weren't the sections coordinated as one long section? Not sure why I can remember all these road geek things, but maybe someone else does too.

Here's the full story, illustrated with some fantastic old photographs of the system before, during and after construction. Everything you ever wanted to know about the history of Houston's freeways, right here on this one website.

Check it out at http://www.houstonfreeways.com/ebook.aspx

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There is a movie entitled, The Thief Who Came to Dinner.

It was filmed in Houston in 1973. There is this one scene where they're driving. My sister & I, watching it on late night t.v., wondered where these people were driving.

We think, Allen Pkwy? Memorial? then there is the Astrodome. They are on what would be Loop 610. The old HISD headquarters (soon to be CostCo) is also featured. The MFAH is in there too -- only it morphs into another building before morphing back.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070794/

Thought you might like to watch it if you're interested in the once-upon-a-time of loop 610.

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Grew up on pin oak just east of 610 in Bellaire...I rode my bike to Penney's in Meyerland to get material for college in the summer of 1967...so the portion of 610 from Pin Oak Stables to Meyerland had to be completed after that...probably Fall of 67. Is my memory shot or does that sound plausible?? :blush:

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(FYI ) My "Revised-1953" map of Houston shows no loop system in place yet, but shows on the Southeast side, what they referred to as "proposed Holmes Speedway" between Old Alvin Rd. or Mykawa Rd. and Hwy 3, with dotted lines on both sides extending to South Park Dr. & Gulf Freeway.

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