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Houston to Austin freeway connection

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I drove to Austin over the weekend, using the I10/Hwy 71 route to get there. I'm always surprised at all the red lights you have to go through when you get near Austin. Why is it that there are bypasses around Sealy, Columbus, La Grange and Smithville, then when you get to Bastrop, it's one light after another?

It's almost as if the Austin area is thumbing it's nose at people coming over from Houston, the state's largest city. Surely Hwy 71 all the way into Austin deserves freeway status!

I took 290 home and it's even worse.

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I drove to Austin over the weekend, using the I10/Hwy 71 route to get there. I'm always surprised at all the red lights you have to go through when you get near Austin. Why is it that there are bypasses around Sealy, Columbus, La Grange and Smithville, then when you get to Bastrop, it's one light after another?

It's almost as if the Austin area is thumbing it's nose at people coming over from Houston, the state's largest city. Surely Hwy 71 all the way into Austin deserves freeway status!

I took 290 home and it's even worse.

How do you not know it is Houston thumbing her nose?

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Actually, there are only two lights in Bastrop, and another west of the city at 1209.

I have made this comment before, that as far as I know, Texas is the only State in the nation that does not have an interstate between its largest city and capitol.

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I drove to Austin over the weekend, using the I10/Hwy 71 route to get there. I'm always surprised at all the red lights you have to go through when you get near Austin. Why is it that there are bypasses around Sealy, Columbus, La Grange and Smithville, then when you get to Bastrop, it's one light after another?

It's almost as if the Austin area is thumbing it's nose at people coming over from Houston, the state's largest city. Surely Hwy 71 all the way into Austin deserves freeway status!

I took 290 home and it's even worse.

I have never found myself that put off by the few lights in bastrop, I guess I have been too busy enjoying the scenery there. By the way I would HATE to see any more freeway overpasses amongst those magestic pines I think it is only 4 or 5 lights and I never catch more than two. Yes 290 is worse. There is a business loop at Bastrop as well.

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It's certainly a lot better since they added those overpasses in Bastrop but I would like to see more, especially between Bastrop and Austin. I haven't tried 290 in at least 10 years. Guess it's about the same.

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I just made the same trip myself, and to me it's actually much improved compared to what 71 used to be like, especially through LaGrange and past Smithville. The bad stretch as far as lights is the area between the airport and the west side of Bastrop. My beef the way they've done the toll road interchange at 130. The bottlenecks seem worse than they should be.

Speaking of Austin.... for anyone who may have been to a concert there, Southpark Meadows is now a giant shopping center, complete with a Little Woodrows. Mmmmmm, another place to go shopping at Marshalls, Ross, and eat potato skins, lol. Keep Austin Weird, indeed!

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Back when I was at A&M, I remember many a day driving on 290 through Prairie View to get to/from Houston. I probably had a dozen near accidents, and half-a-dozen speeding tickets through that speed trap of a town. I love the new 290 that flies past all of that. However, the downside is the the businesses on the old 290 (now Business 290) were decimated. So, I will just play devil's advocate and say that a sure fire way to kill an old town is to route the traffic around it. Not sure we can have it both ways.

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I too have always thought it was ridiculous that there is not an Interstate highway (not just a freeway, but a full-fledged part of the federal Interstate Highway system) connecting Houston and Austin.

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Actually, there are only two lights in Bastrop, and another west of the city at 1209.

I have made this comment before, that as far as I know, Texas is the only State in the nation that does not have an interstate between its largest city and capitol.

I can think of one other: Nevada.

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I would welcome more overpasses along Hwy 71 between Austin and Bastrop. There have been some bad accidents at some of those intersections. 290 is absolutely horrible between Austin and Elgin. I can handle the lights in the small towns every 25 or 30 miles, but a stretch of closely spaced, unsynchronized lights on a 50-60 mph speed limit road is horrible. There's also a sustained bit of 290 without shoulder lanes from Elgin to what I remember to be Paige? You certainly don't want a breakdown there. I think there are plans to construct a toll road along 290 on that section, I doubt travelers coming in from Houston without Texas Tags will like that. Sure, they can take the feeder road, but you're still hitting lights. I think 290 along that stretch would benefit from the same treatment that US 90A in Houston got between 610 and Stafford. That way, traffic lights would be bypassed, business access would be retained and the ROW acquisition would not be as much as a full fledged freeway.

Edited by JLWM8609

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I really don't think 71 is bad enough to justify the expense of overpasses or a separate expressway. But I agree that 290 can be a pain, especially if you get caught at the train tracks in Giddings.

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There will soon be another light on 71 west of Bastrop at Pope Bend Road. The construction going on there now is a new high school for Cedar Creek.

When they put the toll road across 71, I couldn

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There will soon be another light on 71 west of Bastrop at Pope Bend Road. The construction going on there now is a new high school for Cedar Creek.

When they put the toll road across 71, I couldn't believe they didn't make an overpass for 71 rather than adding an additional stop light. From the looks of things, the new roads were constructed to allow an overpass to be added later. They are building the flyovers to connect the two highways, but all the money and effort is going into facilitating the traffic for the toll road, and to hell with the "free" way.

As with 290 east of Austin, Austin Sprawl is beginning along 71. I don't understand the mentality of waiting until the area is built up, and then building the highway around the needs of the newly developed area. Why now build the highway, then let the area develop around the highway?

The same is true with the (excuse the joke here) "Houston Mass Transit System". They have never been, nor will they ever be able to design a system to fit the city. They should have built a system long ago, and then let the city develop around the system.

Well, they tried.

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I have made this comment before, that as far as I know, Texas is the only State in the nation that does not have an interstate between its largest city and capitol.

Alaska, Delaware, and Nevada would also fall into that category.

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There will soon be another light on 71 west of Bastrop at Pope Bend Road. The construction going on there now is a new high school for Cedar Creek.

When they put the toll road across 71, I couldn

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Edited by TJones

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What the hell is an extra 7 minutes on a 2.5 hour drive. Those lights don't hurt a thing, and you'd most likely plow into someone in those towns, if they weren't there to slow you down.

Ah, but you have to multiply that 7 minutes by the number of stop lights. That can really add up.

I went through Giddings about 8 years ago, and it was just before their big event of the year, a rodeo, I believe. They had a parade down the main drag, so they shut down 290 to thru traffic. You had to go around. Luckily I got there after the parade was over so my delay wasn

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Ah, but you have to multiply that 7 minutes by the number of stop lights. That can really add up.

I went through Giddings about 8 years ago, and it was just before their big event of the year, a rodeo, I believe. They had a parade down the main drag, so they shut down 290 to thru traffic. You had to go around. Luckily I got there after the parade was over so my delay wasn

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H2B there is not ONE of those lights that takes 7 minutes to make a cycle. C'mon now.

But, that’s the number you used!

What the hell is an extra 7 minutes on a 2.5 hour drive. Those lights don't hurt a thing, and you'd most likely plow into someone in those towns, if they weren't there to slow you down.
No, I am not a member, I keep getting asked to join, and I keep meaning to.

I will probably be working the Veteran’s Booth at the Courthouse, but I’ll be making the rounds as well, so I’ll look for you there.

Not sure if you know, but there is a BBQ cook-off and pie contest being held that same day. It’s at Fisherman’s Park on the river, just a short walk from Main Street.

Speaking of Veterans, do I remember right your saying once that you were a bubblehead?

Edited by Heights2Bastrop

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I too have always thought it was ridiculous that there is not an Interstate highway (not just a freeway, but a full-fledged part of the federal Interstate Highway system) connecting Houston and Austin.

We could just get rid of 290. Upgrade the segment and call it I-10N and re-sign the Katy Freeway as I-10S.

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What the hell is an extra 7 minutes on a 2.5 hour drive. Those lights don't hurt a thing, and you'd most likely plow into someone in those towns, if they weren't there to slow you down.

I wonder how people driving over from Austin would react if all the overpasses on I10 through the Katy area were replaced with at grade intersections.

The Austin area is woefully inadequate as far as freeways go. Traffic is terrible, and getting from Point A to Point B can be problematic. There were ambitious plans in the 60's and again in the 80's to upgrade their freeway network, but they were never fully implemented, shot down by environmentalists and NIMBY's. Now I guess they're trying to catch up.

Austin is a great town, but people from Austin need to get over being from Austin, in my opinion.

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I agree, westguy, but I would rather it become I-12.

Which has already been taken by I-12 in Louisiana. Better yet, just make it a 3 digit Interstate spur. I-510 anyone?

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Which has already been taken by I-12 in Louisiana. Better yet, just make it a 3 digit Interstate spur. I-510 anyone?

They could make I-12 multiplex with I-10 from Baton Rouge to Houston. Then have the highway multiplex with 610 for that 1 mile or so, and go down the 290 corridor to Austin. The I-10/610 interchange can already accomodate interstate standards, as the 610 SB to I-10 EB and I-10 WB to 610 NB ramps are already two lanes each. This thing would do a lot of multiplexing with other interstates, including with I-35 through Austin. We can always dream can't we?

Edited by JLWM8609

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Alaska, Delaware, and Nevada would also fall into that category.

Alaska's got extenuating circumstances. It's not even possible to get from the largest city to the capital by car unless they leave the country. The terrain forbids it.

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Alaska, Delaware, and Nevada would also fall into that category.

Add to the list:

Missouri

South Dakota

New Jersey. The NJ Turnpike runs between the two but there is an Interstate gap between Trenton and Newark, which is why I-95 doesn't count

Edited by DaTrain

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I just made the Houston to Austin run last week. Can't say it was too painful. 2 hours 40 minutes for 154 miles. Being a US highway, it could be upgraded to interstate specs. They could run bypasses around the couple of towns that have stoplights, similar to Highway 6 at Bryan-College Station. Someday, I am sure they will.

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Add to the list:

New Jersey. The NJ Turnpike runs between the two but there is an Interstate gap between Trenton and Newark, which is why I-95 doesn't count

I see you've been reading Wikipedia ;-) Whatever technical "gap" may exist, Trenton and Newark are nevertheless connected by Interstate-quality limited access highways, and that is really the point, I think.

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I always thought backroom deals were cut between reps from the towns on 290 past Hempstead/Brenham that prevented any type of freeway system...

they've upgraded the roads in giddings, etc. but they don't go on and just create a legitimate system?

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