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Highway 59 - 610 Interchange Partial Rebuild


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The part where people had to cross 4 lanes of traffic to get off on Westheimer if going north on 610 was a 100% success with that excellent single lane off ramp that gets you off of the main lanes before you cross over 59 and then dumps you right on the feeder before Westheimer.

The major failure was in the ramp that takes you from 610 north going to 59 south. Before they reconstructed this area that area of 610 right in front of the Home Depot was famous for wrecks. I still see the area jammed up at all hours of the day during the work week. They did improve the access to go to 59 north but the 59 south ramp seems to be too narrow and sharp for large commercial trucks and SUVs to take at high speed. Even when the traffic is not heavy people slow down to 25-40 mph on that turn.

They should have built an exit ramp like the ones they have at beltway 8 and 59 north where it is a very lazy and gradual curve with lots of shoulder room for people to feel more safe about not hitting the wall. This curve should have gone over the old existing 610 bridge that goes over 59. The exit for the ramp should have been at least a mile before the actual exit by raising a wall protected with crash barrel to keep people from jumping on the exit at the last second and causing more slowing.

With that intersection being in the top 10 more busy and dangerous in the USA the sky should have been the limit on funding a good solution.

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Both ramps to 59S stink. The one from 610S to 59S is infinitely worse -- arguably, it is the most congested and poorly designed ramp in all of Houston. They should have made the West Alabama entrance ramp go only to 59S. The scant traffic wanting to head north should be made to detour via either Richmond or San Felipe. Right now, those few people merging leftward are what make the 610 mainlanes back up past I-10.

Edited by desirous
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The major failure was in the ramp that takes you from 610 north going to 59 south. Before they reconstructed this area that area of 610 right in front of the Home Depot was famous for wrecks. I still see the area jammed up at all hours of the day during the work week. They did improve the access to go to 59 north but the 59 south ramp seems to be too narrow and sharp for large commercial trucks and SUVs to take at high speed. Even when the traffic is not heavy people slow down to 25-40 mph on that turn.

They should have built an exit ramp like the ones they have at beltway 8 and 59 north where it is a very lazy and gradual curve with lots of shoulder room for people to feel more safe about not hitting the wall. This curve should have gone over the old existing 610 bridge that goes over 59. The exit for the ramp should have been at least a mile before the actual exit by raising a wall protected with crash barrel to keep people from jumping on the exit at the last second and causing more slowing.

With that intersection being in the top 10 more busy and dangerous in the USA the sky should have been the limit on funding a good solution.

Design standards were different in the late 50's when the interchange was designed. Cars were bigger and slower, and people didn't barrel down them like they do today. I don't see anything wrong with those ramps today. Solution is, if you're driving a big rig or a SUV or a car that can't handle sharp curves at speed well, slow down! That's why they're going 25-40 mph in light traffic. If you crash going through it, it's your fault, not TxDOT's. They have signs telling you to slow down. It's all part of being a responsible driver.

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Again, who did these designs? All that construction and money for basically the same results! Idiots! No accountability.

Why is the 59 northbound to 610 north only one freaking lane?!!??!?!??!?!? What they need to do is shut down the Chimney Rock entrance ramp there.

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Design standards were different in the late 50's when the interchange was designed. Cars were bigger and slower, and people didn't barrel down them like they do today. I don't see anything wrong with those ramps today. Solution is, if you're driving a big rig or a SUV or a car that can't handle sharp curves at speed well, slow down! That's why they're going 25-40 mph in light traffic. If you crash going through it, it's your fault, not TxDOT's. They have signs telling you to slow down. It's all part of being a responsible driver.

I disagree these ramps are horrible for the "labeld" busiest intersection in Texas. I think they should have constructed it like the recontructed 610 & I10 intersection. They should have rebuilt 610 mainlanes with the newer style peirs to allow for more room for the ramps. Also they should have two continous lanes on the busier ramps, and start the ramp atleast a mile before the intersection and extend in a mile after the intersection likie the 75(N Central Exp) & 635(LBJ Fwy) intersection in Dallas.

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Again, who did these designs? All that construction and money for basically the same results! Idiots! No accountability.

Why is the 59 northbound to 610 north only one freaking lane?!!??!?!??!?!? What they need to do is shut down the Chimney Rock entrance ramp there.

The 59N to 610N is 2 lanes. the 59N to 610S is only 1 lane.

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I think they should have constructed it like the recontructed 610 & I10 intersection.

The ramp from 610 northbound to I-10 westbound is terrible. There are mornings where it has been easier for me to take the I-10 eastbound ramp, take a left on Washington, and come back onto I-10 westbound from Old Katy Rd. than to simply take the westbound ramp.

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Could you imagine the long line going into the Fountainview intersection. I don't think that would fly.

More lanes yes, less entrances no.

Yeah, if they shut down the Chimney Rock entrance to the main lanes at that point, they'd have needed to have built another flyover like they've got for Westheimer folks going southbound on 610.

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The ramp from 610 northbound to I-10 westbound is terrible. There are mornings where it has been easier for me to take the I-10 eastbound ramp, take a left on Washington, and come back onto I-10 westbound from Old Katy Rd. than to simply take the westbound ramp.

That's because I-10 is not finished yet. Seven lanes (3 on I-10, 2 from 610N, 2 from 10S) merge down to... three! No surprise there. Wait until I-10 itself is completed; the ramp might not be so bad then.

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Sorry about that, I meant 59 northbound to 610 southbound. Its a huge bottleneck and it causes all the traffic there at the intersection. People go so freaking slow on that connection, because its another blind merge from the connector from 59 southbound and then all the kamikazi guys on 610 trying to exit on Fornace. Do the traffic engineers even scope out the traffic patterns before they design these things?

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Design standards were different in the late 50's when the interchange was designed. Cars were bigger and slower, and people didn't barrel down them like they do today. I don't see anything wrong with those ramps today. Solution is, if you're driving a big rig or a SUV or a car that can't handle sharp curves at speed well, slow down! That's why they're going 25-40 mph in light traffic. If you crash going through it, it's your fault, not TxDOT's. They have signs telling you to slow down. It's all part of being a responsible driver.

To adapt to the changes that have occured in vehicle design thus enabling higher speed operation the roadways must also be changed.

Do you think putting jet engines on aircraft was a bad idea? Props are what flew out of airports all over the world first so was building longer runways to accomodate faster jets also a mistake?

Edited by LarryDallas
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To adapt to the changes that have occured in vehicle design thus enabling higher speed operation the roadways must also be changed.

Do you think putting jet engines on aircraft was a bad idea? Props are what flew out of airports all over the world first so was building longer runways to accomodate faster jets also a mistake?

I understand where you're coming from, but the jet engine/prop analogy isn't very valid in this particular case. Of course jet engined aircraft needed longer runways, they had higher takeoff speeds and higher takeoff weights than thier prop counterparts. Cars do not have to be at a high speed to handle a curve, they can slow down and adapt to the road design without crashing.

Edited by JLWM8609
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I understand where you're coming from, but the jet engine/prop analogy isn't very valid in this particular case. Of course jet engined aircraft needed longer runways, they had higher takeoff speeds and higher takeoff weights than thier prop counterparts. Cars do not have to be at a high speed to handle a curve, they can slow down and adapt to the road design without crashing.

Slowing down to a crawl on a freeway is socially irresponsible; it causes huge traffic jams during rush hour. The price of excessive caution is public misery. Just because you can take the elevator to floor two doesn't mean you should.

Edited by desirous
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I understand where you're coming from, but the jet engine/prop analogy isn't very valid in this particular case. Of course jet engined aircraft needed longer runways, they had higher takeoff speeds and higher takeoff weights than thier prop counterparts. Cars do not have to be at a high speed to handle a curve, they can slow down and adapt to the road design without crashing.

Yes and no. No because if a vast majority of roadways are designed by engineers to be taken at 60 mph with complete safety and you have one that is a newly built exact copy of the first one built back in the 1950s when vehciles themselves were primative (solid axels, body on frame design, drum brakes, etc); this catches people off gaurd and is a major safety problem even in low traffic conditions. Someone who does not know that interchange and takes the turn at high speed can have a crash. Yes it is the fault of the driver for crashing but it is the fault of TXDOT for making conditions more favorable for a crash.

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Another idiotic design is the new underground feeder road from 610 northbound that merges with 59 northbound. If your on the 59 feeder it will merge with the 610 feeder but it is totally blind. So they closed off one lane, the only problem is tons of cars use the feeder, they exit on New Castle to avoid the giant traffic jam on 610, and many want to make a left on Richmond. I thought they did all this big buck work to help traffic in the Galleria Area? I think its made it worse.

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  • 5 years later...

until they decide to delete the Westheimer exits (both sides) and the Richmond/Hiidalgo exit (southbound) it will continue to be fubar. then consider deleting the Chimney Rock exits both ways on 59 so traffic has to flow further from the interchange before being able to get off.

that worked pretty well to increase traffic flow on northbound 610 to northbound 59 and on 59 itself when the Newcastle exit was deleted. might also consider forcing northbound 610 exiters to n&s 59 to get to the right much further south than at present, maybe around the Bellaire overpass.

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Wow we just keep sinking money into this, don't we. The 59 south to 610 north ramp is always backed up, and for the life of me I can't figure out why. There's no merges, and there's plenty of time to change lanes before the Westheimer exit. I guess it's just typical Houston driver stupidity.

They re-did this interchange roughly 10 years ago I think? And now TxDOT is spending away again, only to do the same thing in another 10 years. They need to do it right, or not do it at all.

Edit: Looking more closely at the specific things TxDOT is doing, I wish they would specify a little more. Are they just rebuilding the bridges? Adding another lane?

Hopefully they can finish the job they started a decade ago.

Edited by mfastx
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In the rebuild from a few years ago - they redid some of the connectors but not all of them, and on others only redid a part of them or expanded them. Maybe it's a full-blown rework of the connectors. What they did a few years back, was a 100% improvement over what was previously there.

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In the rebuild from a few years ago - they redid some of the connectors but not all of them, and on others only redid a part of them or expanded them. Maybe it's a full-blown rework of the connectors. What they did a few years back, was a 100% improvement over what was previously there.

Right. I remember a few years back they re-did the intersection but left some of the old bridges intact. I guess they left it for another day.

Glad that they are finishing the job, hopefully they do their homework on traffic flow and this interchange won't have to be rebuilt in another decade or so.

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until they decide to delete the Westheimer exits (both sides) and the Richmond/Hiidalgo exit (southbound) it will continue to be fubar.

Deleting the Westheimer exits will just move the congestion to another point. People will still need to get to Westheimer from 610 somehow.

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I agree the plans look vague... part of the issue is that it's a rainbow orgasm of an engineering diagram... my eyes can't super impose the final design over the top of the right-of-way lines, shifted lane configurations, and overlapping ramps. If I even get it half right, it looks like 610 SB gets it's own chimney rock exit (along with an improved 59 NB/SB split) that merges with a pre-exited 59 SB lane to avoid the merge while existing 610 SB to 59 SB braids over the top. It also looks like 59 NB to 610 SB will braid over exiting 610 SB at Fournace, with something similar happening going NB. For that matter, it looks like the ramps are going to be lofted about half a mile in advance of the stack, a la west 8 @ 10. Finally (hopefully) it looks like they may also braid over the 610 SB to 59 NB stuff, which would solve the cluster at Wesleyan.

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What is interesting, is that they are considering this so soon after the last rebuild. I wonder if it is being driven by congestion on the West Loop vs. 59. Because coming in 59 is SO much better than it used to be. Yes it backs up in the morning, but it really is not bad till the Hillcroft curve which is not a great distance. (unless there is a wreck - then all bets are off).

Now outbound in the evening is far worse. And the interchange that actually needs work is the Beltway 8 - 59S interchange. It backs all the way up to the Hillcroft curve the other way outbound. As soon as you pass Beltway 8 - the freeway opens up. Hopefully with them adding a lane on the Southbound Tollway - that will decrease the backup on the connectors to 59.

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I'm pretty sure the interchange was not completely rebuilt the last time around (the West Loop project that was completed circa 2007). As is often the case, the interchange is a major choke point for both the Southwest Freeway and the Loop.

What is surprising about this plan is that it does not appear to address the major backups on the 59 Southbound to Loop Northbound ramp.

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It wasn't completely rebuilt. The connectors were partially rebuilt/added on to. And they added the flyover lanes on the from the southbound West Loop frontage road to the southbound West Loop. And tunnelled the West Loop frontage roads under 59.

But - before and after results was like night and day. That's why I am so surprised that they are revisiting it so soon. It is nowhere near the problem it used to be. Not that I am complaining - if they can improve flow, I'm all for it.

Is it a cascade effect from running the Uptown line off Westpark under 59 to Post Oak? Or maybe the sections they did not replace last time are obsolete/unsafe and since they have to rebuild - they might as well make improvements?

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Is it a cascade effect from running the Uptown line off Westpark under 59 to Post Oak? Or maybe the sections they did not replace last time are obsolete/unsafe and since they have to rebuild - they might as well make improvements?

I think it's a combination of both. I think they are mostly doing this so soon to accommodate the light rail line, but some of the bridges (for example the 610 overpass) are very old, even with the partial rebuild.

That being said, there are other interchanges that I think are in greater need of a re-do. 45 and 610 on the northside comes to mind.

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Ugh, and undoubtedly the company that did the construction has since gone bankruptcy styles.

If it's the older portion that is spalling, then it's pretty much par for the course. It's just what reinforced concrete does, eventually. If it's the newer stuff, then there's no excuse for that.

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mfastx... are they not redoing the 610-45 debacle with the rest of the work on north 610? If not, that's a real travesty.

Not quite sure, but it doesn't appear so. They have already finished the portions of 610 east and west of the interchange. Possibly they are saving it for last (?) but I doubt it. It probably wont' be re-done until 45 gets an overhaul, sadly

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Deleting the Westheimer exits will just move the congestion to another point. People will still need to get to Westheimer from 610 somehow.

yes, that was my point, move the congestion further away from the interchange, which theoretically would allow for smoother, faster flow through the interchange itself.

if you have traveled northbound 610 over 59 almost anytime of day since the rebuild what you find is radical differences in lane speeds caused by both exiters and last-second lane changers (both cutting into the line or moving out at zero mph into 60mph lanes). it's even worse on the southbound side b/c of the Westheimer entry and Richmond exit only yards apart and so close to the 59 exit, although better than it was before the redo. the difference in speeds is not just a primary cause of congestion, but insanely dangerous as well, as the ridiculously high accident count at 610 northbound to 59 illustrates.

the notion that drivers must be allowed to exit freeways at every major surface street is just stupid in a town with as rational a n/s/e/w surface street grid as Houston.

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Not quite sure, but it doesn't appear so. They have already finished the portions of 610 east and west of the interchange. Possibly they are saving it for last (?) but I doubt it. It probably wont' be re-done until 45 gets an overhaul, sadly

Everything I've heard points to the N610 and 45N interchange being redone when 45N gets redone.

No sense to redo that interchange until that time anyway as 45 will still be the mess that it is.

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  • 3 months later...

Not sure if this is related to the rebuild plans or not, but at the northbound lanes of 59 over Chimney Rock - they have busted out the outside barrier wall and off to the side they have formed up the rebar for what looks like concrete support columns. It almost looks like they are going to add a lane or two to the main freeway lanes over Chimney Rock.

Anybody know what is going on?

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Thanks for the quick response. Makes sense. The traffic merging onto the freeway has to mix with and cross the traffic simultaneously exiting Chinney Rock. Whenever I don't take the bus in the morning, I exit the freeway there - it is always a take-your-life-into-your-own-hands proposition during morning rush hour. It also causes the Chimney Rock exiting traffic to back up the right two lanes of the freeway just at the Westpark curve.

That whole stretch from Westpark to Newcastle has a lot going on in a short space.

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I have to believe that this plan (59 / 610 partial rebuild) and the Post Oak redo are somewhat intertwined as part of the right of way acquisition around Richmond seems to require a re-alignment of Post Oak. Hopefully the two teams are talking to each other and it all gets knocked out at one time.

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  • 5 years later...

Here's the latest information about the project

http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/houston/59-610.html

 

The 59/69 SB to 610 NB ramp will still be 1 lane wide. I wonder why they didn't take this opportunity to expand that ramp to 2 lanes wide? Every other ramp that's currently 1 lane wide will become 2 lanes wide. 

Edited by JLWM8609
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4 hours ago, kennyc05 said:

I thought every ramp was being rebuilt?

As JLWM8609 noted, the 59/69 SB to 610 NB ramp is staying as-is at one lane. All other ramps are being rebuilt, some with major realignments.

 

I don't know the reason for leaving the 59/69 SB to 610 NB ramp as-is, but I think lane balance is a factor. The west Loop northbound cannot absorb another lane of traffic, so the ramp is maintained as 1 lane and traffic will continue to back up onto the Southwest Freeway.

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3 hours ago, MaxConcrete said:

As JLWM8609 noted, the 59/69 SB to 610 NB ramp is staying as-is at one lane. All other ramps are being rebuilt, some with major realignments.

 

I don't know the reason for leaving the 59/69 SB to 610 NB ramp as-is, but I think lane balance is a factor. The west Loop northbound cannot absorb another lane of traffic, so the ramp is maintained as 1 lane and traffic will continue to back up onto the Southwest Freeway.

A bit late, but I think I have an idea of how that ramp can be improved to prevent backups onto Southwest Freeway. It's easy. They close off Newcastle Road north of the eastbound frontage road. It's already not a highly-used intersection anyway (no ramps to the west of the road anymore, and a wall was installed at Newcastle and 59 north of the freeway some years ago). They add one lane to the south of the existing westbound US-59 frontage road, putting plastic bollards between the frontage road and the exit. Then that ramp elevates back up to the current level of the exit ramp, and connects to it. Done. It prevents traffic from backing up on Southwest Freeway by having them exit earlier, and it eliminates an extra exit.

 

Traffic would be informed to access Newcastle via Westpark Drive.

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  • Highrise Tower changed the title to Highway 59 - 610 Interchange Partial Rebuild

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