Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
DNAguy

Fixing SW Freeway Congestion

Recommended Posts

TxDOT looking into ways to ease congestion on the Southwest Freeway from 288 all the way to Beltway 8.

 

I guess there's already been a meeting on this last year in September 2014.

 

Here's the TxDOT sight:

 

www.mysouthwestfreeway.com

 

Outside of the "lipstick on a pig" ideas, here are some thoughts (not 100% original btw) on how traffic can be eased on 59 / 69 without much ROW purchased:

 

1.) Configure on ramps / off ramps on top of each other like at 59/69 and Kirby between 610 and the beltway. That way merging and exiting traffic isn't fighting one another

 

2.) Build elevated two-way HOV lanes in current HOV ROW from Spur to past the beltway. (possible?)

 

3.) Reconfigure Chimney Rock exit (headed south)  by exiting before the 610 traffic merges into 59/69 and have those exiting 59/69 to 610 do so before the Chimney Rock entrance to the freeway. Either that or eliminate the Chimney Rock exit / entrances all together.

 

Ideas that might require ROW purchase and most definitely be more expensive even if no ROW:

 

1.) Extend Westpark tollway (WPT) past 610 and grade separate at 610 interchange. Possibly grade separate at Newcastle and have tollway end between Newcastle and Wesleyan. If not, have just have it end between 610 frontage and Newcastle.

 

2.) Direct connector from 610 traffic headed north to WPT headed west.

 

3.) Direct connector from WPT headed east to 610 headed south. (I don't think a WPT east to 610 North can fit)

 

4.) 2 lane Direct connector from 59/69 north to 610 south. Current one lane config. is big bottle neck.

 

5.) Direct connector from southbound 610 traffic to westbound WPT. To limit ROW, the direct connector would have to be after the 59/69 exit and tie into the extended WPT.

 

Ideas that might require significant ROW but not quite to the level of the Katy freeway redesign:

 

1.) If previous #5 option not available, have a direct connector from southbound 610 traffic to westbound WPT on the north side of 59/69. It would be something like that of the new 290 to I10 direct connector. However this leads me to my next idea...

 

2.) Purchase land between 59/69 and Westpark rd. and WPT. Shift 59/69 slightly south and decrease the sharpness of the 59/69 curve at the WPT intersection.

 

Katy Freeway clear-cutting option:

 

1.) Turn single HOV lane into 3 HOT lanes with the middle lane being bi-directional (much like what 290 was supposed to have)

 

2.) Add a full 5th lane to each direction of 59/69.

 

3.) Let them eat cake.

 

Anyone else have any thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Instead of the three-lane HOT option, I'd take a lane from the mainlanes along with a feeder lane on each side, and convert the HOV to a true 2x2 express lane configuration. Perhaps something like the LBJ express lanes, if we have the money to do so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whatever they do they need to fix the segment from 45 to the spur.  Maybe double-deck it if they can't get the land on either side.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. One thing I can see right off is the problematic Newcastle intersection, and I recommend closing that completely off. It's basically useless, as it just takes you to the highway, and not into Afton Oaks, you can't go west on US-59 due to the intersection being too close to the 610 intersection, and east is pointless since you can just take Westpark Road to Weslayan. That way, entering Weslayan traffic doesn't have to worry about people from Newcastle trying to exit.

 

2. Rebuild the 59/610 intersection so that there's a contiguous frontage road for 59. Westpark Drive will be sunken below the frontage roads to avoid a stoplight (as well as any potential mess-ups in the future if they decide to build light rail parallel to it). There will also be the "frontage road flyovers" like Beltway 8 to avoid the stoplights at the "base layer", partially to facilitate a NB exit to Richmond from 610, which would be the old Westpark Road exit near Pin Oak Park.

 

3. Widen US-59 between Westpark Tollway's interchange with it and 610, and have the tollway run in the center of it. This would connect with the rest of 610 N and 59 E a bit like how the High Five in Dallas interfaces with its HOT lane. The current way Westpark is squeezed into the current configuration is pretty gnarly. The remaining section of Westpark Tollway won't go to waste, however, it will be turned into the exit ramps for 610. So instead of the existing 610 S to 59 W exit ramp, you'll use the Westpark Tollway exit, and the old exit will be demolished so the frontage roads could connect and intersect could be created! Pretty neat, huh? (Obviously, this will all be modified, as the particular bit of exit ramp actually goes from 610 to Westpark, not the other way around)

 

Honestly, from looking at this, it looks like part of the problem is the whole 610 mess, so here's one more...

 

4. Post Oak Blvd. is closed past Hidalgo, and the ROW is abandoned. The southbound frontage road continues being a normal frontage road until Richmond, where it hooks up with main southbound frontage road.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

3.) Reconfigure Chimney Rock exit (headed south)  by exiting before the 610 traffic merges into 59/69 and have those exiting 59/69 to 610 do so before the Chimney Rock entrance to the freeway. Either that or eliminate the Chimney Rock exit / entrances all together.

 

 

I think that will be implemented as they rebuild the interchange at 610 over the next few years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is always a backup between the spur and 288.  There 6 six lanes on 59 goes to 3 lanes.  Everybody takes the spur but then cut in front of vehicles on 59.  Sometimes there a cops right at the spur that catches them.  I think they should double deck it.  Or tear it down with to levels like the LBJ freeway in Dallas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's the problem with the whole freeway. People cuting in at the last moment. There needs to be away to make people commit to one direction or another much earlier instead of allowing them to wait for the last moment. Let's face it Houston driver's are a-holes and have no problem screwing others to get ahead. There would be no traffic problem if people respected others but they don't and there is not enough enforcement to force the issue.  

 

There is always a backup between the spur and 288.  There 6 six lanes on 59 goes to 3 lanes.  Everybody takes the spur but then cut in front of vehicles on 59.  Sometimes there a cops right at the spur that catches them.  I think they should double deck it.  Or tear it down with to levels like the LBJ freeway in Dallas.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about forcing commitment to going onto the spur sooner, with pylons separating the lanes instead of the solid white line?  Or would that just end up with a lot of broken pylons?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

while the cut-ins don't help the traffic situation of 59 mainlanes, they aren't the main cause of the traffic and their only real purpose is that they are a target of your anger while sitting in traffic.

 

putting in bollards, or jersey barriers, or whatever to split the traffic sooner and not allow people to cut across the double-whites, all that would do is help the flow into midtown. If that's the goal, then I'm all for it. I wonder how many accidents occur in this split from people traveling in the midtown lanes coming up unknowingly on someone slowing down to cut back into the main lanes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about forcing commitment to going onto the spur sooner, with pylons separating the lanes instead of the solid white line?  Or would that just end up with a lot of broken pylons?

 

I think if you got rid of part of the reversible lane on 527, converting it to inbound traffic only inbound from the current outbound entrance/inbound exit point in the trench, and then had the two lanes of 527 exit the mainlanes of 59 there, you'd see much traffic improvement, provided that the 527 lanes and 59 lanes were separated by a concrete barrier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The public open house meeting is this week, and public comment is being received.

http://www.h-gac.com/calendar/event.aspx?id=AQIARgAAAxpEc5CqZhHNm8gAqgAvxFoJAI94rxH%2fHM5Dg0zaQWXBOtoAAAEjQZwAAABhyakmMu26T5XXTFBa%2fgEhA58V3kutAAAALgAAAxpEc5CqZhHNm8gAqgAvxFoDAI94rxH%2fHM5Dg0zaQWXBOtoAAAEjQZwAAAA%3d

 

 

There's plenty to dislike in the plan, so I prepared a listing of my complaints on a web page

http://houstonfreeways.com/us59_analysis

 

Here's my summary of the analysis

 

  • Removal of the San Jacinto entrance ramp will eliminate freeway access for a large area, including Midtown, the Museum District, the Richmond corridor and traffic coming from the Medical Center on San Jacinto.
     
  • Proposed changes in the outbound direction from Kirby to Weslayan have the potential to cause huge congestion problems on the frontage road between Buffalo Speedway and Weslayan
     
  • Proposed changes in the inbound direction will add congestion at the Buffalo Speedway intersection.
     
  • The plan proposes conversion to a two-way HOV costing $240 million, but there is no need for a two-way HOV outside the loop. At Loop 610 and inbound toward Edloe, a two-way HOV will be complex and expensive, so any two-way HOV should be limited to the section between Buffalo Speedway and approximately Mandell.
     
  • In general, changes inside the loop increase congestion on the frontage roads to achieve improvement on the main lanes.
     
  • Changes to entrance and exit ramps are intended to aid rush-hour traffic, but the inconvenience imposed on local traffic occurs at all times - non-peak periods, weekends and nights.
     
  • The active traffic management will add a very large number of signs along the corridor and cost $72 million. The benefit/cost ratio of 7.6 seems overly optimistic.
     
  • If relocation of the HOV to the Metro right-of-way along Westpark has not been considered, this should be looked at since it would offer many benefits and potentially cost less than the $240 million price tag for the HOV changes in the proposal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

  • The plan proposes conversion to a two-way HOV costing $240 million, but there is no need for a two-way HOV outside the loop. At Loop 610 and inbound toward Edloe, a two-way HOV will be complex and expensive, so any two-way HOV should be limited to the section between Buffalo Speedway and approximately Mandell.

     

 

 

You state that, "Outside the loop, traffic in the off-peak direction almost always moves at posted speeds." That may be true in 2015, but look forward 10-20 years. Fort Bend County is growing, and we'll undoubtedly see more reverse commutes from Houston to Fort Bend. TxDOT needs to be proactive when spending all of this money to expand the SW Freeway than to expand it and find out that a two-way HOV is needed after all.

For years, a one-way HOV was in the plans for I-45 from 1960 to Conroe as evidenced by the extra wide interior shoulders built when I-45 was widened. In the time between the widening of I-45 and the present day, reverse commuting from Houston to The Woodlands has increased, meaning both sides of I-45 are congested in the morning. So, the plans have changed from a one-way barrier separated HOV lane to a two-way HOV lane which is currently under construction to handle that extra traffic from reverse commutes. 

 

As far as design problems at Park and Ride facilities with a 2 lane HOV and a t-ramp, TxDOT has made such a design work on the Katy Freeway at the Addicks Park and Ride.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You state that, "Outside the loop, traffic in the off-peak direction almost always moves at posted speeds." That may be true in 2015, but look forward 10-20 years. Fort Bend County is growing, and we'll undoubtedly see more reverse commutes from Houston to Fort Bend. TxDOT needs to be proactive when spending all of this money to expand the SW Freeway than to expand it and find out that a two-way HOV is needed after all.

For years, a one-way HOV was in the plans for I-45 from 1960 to Conroe as evidenced by the extra wide interior shoulders built when I-45 was widened. In the time between the widening of I-45 and the present day, reverse commuting from Houston to The Woodlands has increased, meaning both sides of I-45 are congested in the morning. So, the plans have changed from a one-way barrier separated HOV lane to a two-way HOV lane which is currently under construction to handle that extra traffic from reverse commutes. 

 

As far as design problems at Park and Ride facilities with a 2 lane HOV and a t-ramp, TxDOT has made such a design work on the Katy Freeway at the Addicks Park and Ride.

 

This is a good point, especially with Schlumberger moving out to SL. No doubt many of their vendors might see it as a good idea to head that way as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HOV with 2 lanes is a good, progressive step forward. Too many times there are accidents which snarl the lane. On top of that on average that particular lane doesn't reach its claimed speed even without incidents. This improves overall traffic flow.

As far as taking west park right of way for a freeway project NO NO NO. That is meant for a future rail line, freeway expansion is taking place all over the city and its absurd that its supporters totally ignore any potential benefits of good alternative modes of transportation. Leave that alone.

As far as congesting feeder lanes to keep the main lanes moving, it's about priorities. Evidently TXDOT wants to keep the freeway moving at the expense of the feeder. But I don't see bad frontage road traffic during off peak periods for the most part so that seems like an illegitimate fear.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HOV with 2 lanes is a good, progressive step forward. Too many times there are accidents which snarl the lane. On top of that on average that particular lane doesn't reach its claimed speed even without incidents. This improves overall traffic flow.

As far as taking west park right of way for a freeway project NO NO NO. That is meant for a future rail line, freeway expansion is taking place all over the city and its absurd that its supporters totally ignore any potential benefits of good alternative modes of transportation. Leave that alone.

As far as congesting feeder lanes to keep the main lanes moving, it's about priorities. Evidently TXDOT wants to keep the freeway moving at the expense of the feeder. But I don't see bad frontage road traffic during off peak periods for the most part so that seems like an illegitimate fear.

 

Settle down there Slick, the Westpark ROW is a wide piece of land. The original deal, if I recall correctly, was that METRO bought the original railroad and stripped it out to Eagle Lake in 2001 (most of it, at least). In my opinion, that was a mistake as they should've kept the Eagle Lake/Wallis segment to lease to freight operators and/or mothball most of the remaining parts for a potential rail line. METRO and HCTRA ended up splitting the ROW, which is why Westpark Tollway is so narrow and there's a large strip of ROW in between Westpark Tollway and everything else so that METRO could build some sort of rail-based transit later. This carries over into around Kirby, then narrows again.

 

In *theory* HOT lanes could be built on the Westpark Tollway while still leaving ample space for two-way rail (and maybe even a bike path too). Of course, building a (presumably elevated) HOT lane there opens up its own problems, such as the HOT lanes previously interfacing at Edloe, now that interfacing would be above Edloe and Westpark Road, which would force Westpark Road there to be grade-separated while the HOT lane access descends to earth to have a stoplight at Edloe, which would replace the elevated system currently over 59. 

 

If the HOT lanes were redirected, then lanes could be opened up...which would be merged again as it approached the sunken area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Settle down there Slick, the Westpark ROW is a wide piece of land. The original deal, if I recall correctly, was that METRO bought the original railroad and stripped it out to Eagle Lake in 2001 (most of it, at least). In my opinion, that was a mistake as they should've kept the Eagle Lake/Wallis segment to lease to freight operators and/or mothball most of the remaining parts for a potential rail line. METRO and HCTRA ended up splitting the ROW, which is why Westpark Tollway is so narrow and there's a large strip of ROW in between Westpark Tollway and everything else so that METRO could build some sort of rail-based transit later. This carries over into around Kirby, then narrows again.

In *theory* HOT lanes could be built on the Westpark Tollway while still leaving ample space for two-way rail (and maybe even a bike path too). Of course, building a (presumably elevated) HOT lane there opens up its own problems, such as the HOT lanes previously interfacing at Edloe, now that interfacing would be above Edloe and Westpark Road, which would force Westpark Road there to be grade-separated while the HOT lane access descends to earth to have a stoplight at Edloe, which would replace the elevated system currently over 59.

If the HOT lanes were redirected, then lanes could be opened up...which would be merged again as it approached the sunken area.

Being a cynic I see HOT lanes in west park an excuse to take away land for rail and open up another main lane on 59 as well

Settle down there Slick, the Westpark ROW is a wide piece of land. The original deal, if I recall correctly, was that METRO bought the original railroad and stripped it out to Eagle Lake in 2001 (most of it, at least). In my opinion, that was a mistake as they should've kept the Eagle Lake/Wallis segment to lease to freight operators and/or mothball most of the remaining parts for a potential rail line. METRO and HCTRA ended up splitting the ROW, which is why Westpark Tollway is so narrow and there's a large strip of ROW in between Westpark Tollway and everything else so that METRO could build some sort of rail-based transit later. This carries over into around Kirby, then narrows again.

In *theory* HOT lanes could be built on the Westpark Tollway while still leaving ample space for two-way rail (and maybe even a bike path too). Of course, building a (presumably elevated) HOT lane there opens up its own problems, such as the HOT lanes previously interfacing at Edloe, now that interfacing would be above Edloe and Westpark Road, which would force Westpark Road there to be grade-separated while the HOT lane access descends to earth to have a stoplight at Edloe, which would replace the elevated system currently over 59.

If the HOT lanes were redirected, then lanes could be opened up...which would be merged again as it approached the sunken area.

Being a cynic I see HOT lanes in west park an excuse to take away land for rail and open up another main lane on 59 as well

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...