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US-290 between Austin and Houston thread (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)

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Bobby5280:

--- Quote from: thisdj78 ---Itís a tight squeeze, but seems like they could use the existing ROW with minimal tear downs.
--- End quote ---

The typical footprint of a Texas freeway exit flanked by frontage roads is around 300' wide. At that width they're going to at least be cutting well into the parking lots of businesses on both sides of US-290.

Nevertheless, this is one project that needs to be done. The intersection of US-290 and FM-1155 in Chappell Hill is currently controlled by a stop light. A grade-separated freeway exit will be one more incremental step (of many) to make US-290 free flowing from Austin to Houston.


--- Quote from: ethanhopkin14 ---Everytime I drive it (and my in-laws live in south east Texas, so I drive it a lot) I nearly get into a fatal accident from driving 75 mph and someone pulls out from a driveway or cross street.  Just because there are no stoplights doesn't mean its good to go.  You still have side streets and driveways connecting directly to the mainlanes, not to mention blind hills, tight curves (yes, SH-71 still has a few of both) and houses placed way too close for a 75 mph corridor that has the look of a freeway but is not.  It's not about time, it's not about speed, it's about the movement of trucks and cars at a speed and it to be safe to do so.
--- End quote ---

Exactly. Far more than raw VPD numbers go into whether a certain highway should just be 2-lane, divided 4-lane or even limited access. Safety has to be a factor of consideration. If a given amount of thru traffic on the highway is traveling at a high speed (like 70mph or more) yet there is a lot of intersecting streets, driveways etc it's going to create an unsafe situation. Either the speed limit has to be considerably lower or at-grade access to the highway has to be more limited.


--- Quote from: texasdog ---Well using that argument every expressway should be a freeway, because people can turn out into a 75 MPH road. That's Fritzowl territory.
--- End quote ---

Not all highways in rural areas on the same. It's one thing if you're on a 4-lane divided highway out in Western Oklahoma and some guy hauling a trailer whips out into the main lanes from a dead stop. In that case you're probably going to have room to change lanes and get around the guy without slamming your brakes. Not many other vehicles will be nearby. It's another thing entirely if you're on a very busy 4-lane divided highway and the same thing happens. Chances are there will be more vehicles in the adjacent lanes as well as driving right behind you. Slamming the brakes in this case will be the only option, but you could still end up in a serious accident anyway.

Houston is the 4th most populous city in the US and Austin is the 11th most populous. Their downtown districts are only 150 miles from each other. The notion these two major cities aren't worthy of a direct Interstate-quality link is just silly. Calling it "Fritzowl territory" is batshit crazy.

thisdj78:

--- Quote from: jgb191 on January 17, 2023, 04:02:05 PM ---
--- Quote from: ethanhopkin14 on January 17, 2023, 10:42:46 AM ---My vote has always been to upgrade SH-71.  Everyone in Austin uses it to go to Houston more because it is wider and half of the trip to Houston is on I-10 if you go that way (not to mention it's faster).  Upgrading it is cheaper because it's half the distance US-290 is.  US-290 just always feels like a wasteland. 
--- End quote ---


US-290 is already up to IH standards from I-610 to the Brazos River (nearly midway to Austin); plus several more miles east of I-35 almost to Manor.  Upgrading the remaining half of US-290 would provide a direct route from Houston which would be useful in the inevitable need for hurricane evacuations plus alleviate traffic on the already overloaded I-10 segment between Houston and Columbus.

--- End quote ---

Just to clarify: US290 isnít interstate standards between Hempstead and the Brazos river (yet). Still several at grade driveways and cross streets in that section.

thisdj78:

--- Quote from: Bobby5280 on January 17, 2023, 04:20:14 PM ---
Houston is the 4th most populous city in the US and Austin is the 11th most populous. Their downtown districts are only 150 miles from each other. The notion these two major cities aren't worthy of a direct Interstate-quality link is just silly. Calling it "Fritzowl territory" is batshit crazy.

--- End quote ---

I know Iím beating a dead horse, but Iím surprised that no politician from this region (between Austin and Houston) has taken this on as a legislative agenda.

The amount of economic development that would occur (especially companies looking to relocate to TX that see being smack in between Austin/Houston as a bonus) would seem to be a good talking point. Interstates help attract that type of development.

Bobby5280:

--- Quote from: thisdj78 ---Just to clarify: US290 isnít interstate standards between Hempstead and the Brazos river (yet). Still several at grade driveways and cross streets in that section.
--- End quote ---

The roughly 7 miles of US-290 between the TX-6 interchange and the Brazos River has more than a dozen at-grade intersections with streets. There are even more driveways.

The FM-1155 intersection with US-290 is the first traffic light West of the TX-6/US-290 interchange. Farther West there are 22 more traffic lights along US-290 before reaching East end of the Manor Expressway toll road in the Austin metro. That doesn't count any flashing yellow signals either.

Some people appear to be assuming US-290 between Austin and Houston is a fully free-flowing 4-lane divided highway when that's not nearly the case at all. US-290 is Interstate quality as far West as Hempstead. After that it's a mix of four lane divided, five lane not-divided and short bits of four lane not-divided. There's lots of at-grade intersections, nearly 2 dozen of them controlled by full traffic signals (and at least 1 with a flashing yellow). And there's lots and lots of driveways connecting directly to the main highway lanes.


--- Quote from: thisdj78 ---I know Iím beating a dead horse, but Iím surprised that no politician from this region (between Austin and Houston) has taken this on as a legislative agenda.
--- End quote ---

Maybe the lawmakers in Austin and Houston believe people should be using bicycles to travel between the two cities. Their legislative priorities appear to be only concerned with issues within their respective metros, not the space between the two metros. The segments of US-290 and TX-71 between the Austin and Houston metros are more a state-wide issue, if not an issue affecting the larger highway network.

jgb191:
^  TX-6 (not OK-6), but I know where you are talking about.
 
I guess I overlooked the intersections between Hempstead and the Brazos, but if I remember correctly the Brazos River stretch is several miles of uninterrupted IH-quality highway that wouldn't need upgrading.  And as I mentioned before they really need to do something at Brenham; the 270-degree circular ramp turn needs to be replaced or rerouted.

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