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Author Topic: US-290 between Austin and Houston thread (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)  (Read 9588 times)

longhorn

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2023, 05:10:34 PM »

TxDOT PUBLIC MEETING TUESDAY ON HIGHWAY 290 Ė FM 1155 INTERSECTION

https://kwhi.com/2023/01/16/txdot-public-meeting-tuesday-on-highway-290-fm-1155-intersection/

So the three not that old gas stations will be bought out and torn down? No doubt rebuilt but........
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thisdj78

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2023, 05:59:01 PM »

TxDOT PUBLIC MEETING TUESDAY ON HIGHWAY 290 Ė FM 1155 INTERSECTION

https://kwhi.com/2023/01/16/txdot-public-meeting-tuesday-on-highway-290-fm-1155-intersection/

So the three not that old gas stations will be bought out and torn down? No doubt rebuilt but........

Itís a tight squeeze, but seems like they could use the existing ROW with minimal tear downs. I-35 through downtown Bruceville-Eddy comes to mind as an example.
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ethanhopkin14

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2023, 10:42:46 AM »

I just drove to Houston from South Austin on 71 this afternoon.  Honestly with two lanes traffic is not bad at all.  It was far worse when I go on to I-10 in Columbus.  10 needs expansion far more than 71 needing to be a freeway.  Houston was a total abomination for traffic heading INTO town.

Not bad at all.  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.  It is hilarious to me to read everyone on this forum dismiss a need for SH-71 to be an interstate citing "it's a four lane expressway, it's good enough" or "it's 2.5 hours between the two, shaving off 15 minutes is not enough of a reason" and completely ignore the real reason this needs to happen.  It's for the same reason any of the interstates were built.  To keep traffic out of an Elinger, TX scenario (Oh, I love driving SH-71 to slow down to 55 in that town so I can relive 1960!) and so that long haul traffic moves safer.  Everyone that loves to pile on this topic and say all is well in the world with the current status of SH-71 are the same people that jump on the thread about the at-grade crossings on West Texas I-10 and lament on how much of a travesty that is. It can't be both ways people!

An Austin to Houston interstate would definitely be more useful than I-2 and I-14, maybe even I-69. Connecting the capitol with the 4th largest city in Texas. However, from an article I've read, the reason TXDOT hasn't considered upgrading US 290 or SH 71 to interstate status is because of all the properties on the highway. Although, TXDOT does plan on removing all the stoplights on SH 71, so soon we'll see a stoplight-free corridor from Houston to Austin.

I hate those lame excuses.  For some reason, the state had no issue buying up property for the right-of-way of the interstate highway system in the beginning and build over 3,000 miles of new freeway, but this 88 mile stretch, just can't do it!  I know different era, but that's a lame excuse.  As stated before and above, a stop-light free road is not equal to an interstate.  Would you pay money to watch Metalica in concert, only to find out when they took the stage they were actually a Metalica cover band and the guys in the band were just some regular guys with 9 to 5s?

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. 
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texaskdog

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2023, 03:33:48 PM »

Well using that argument every expressway should be a freeway, because people can turn out into a 75 MPH road.  That's Fritzowl territory. 
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jgb191

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2023, 04:02:05 PM »

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. 


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.
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Bobby5280

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #30 on: January 17, 2023, 04:20:14 PM »

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

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.

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.

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.
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thisdj78

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #31 on: January 17, 2023, 08:46:14 PM »

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. 


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.

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.
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thisdj78

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #32 on: January 17, 2023, 08:50:25 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.

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.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2023, 08:54:49 PM by thisdj78 »
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Bobby5280

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2023, 12:08:17 AM »

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.

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.

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.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2023, 02:50:04 PM by Bobby5280 »
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jgb191

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2023, 02:01:55 PM »

^  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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ethanhopkin14

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #35 on: January 18, 2023, 02:03:53 PM »

the 270-degree circular ramp turn needs to be replaced or rerouted.

Why, works for Memphis!  :-D
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thisdj78

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #36 on: January 18, 2023, 02:29:49 PM »

^  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.

Correct, the stretch over Brazos is fine. There are plans to redo the intersection with SH36.
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CoreySamson

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #37 on: January 18, 2023, 10:04:42 PM »

Meanwhile, once the lights outside of Austin are replaced with interchanges (which is happening very soon if I'm not mistaken), the only slowdown on TX 71 is in Ellinger. I'm of the firm belief that if any freeway route between Houston and Austin is built, that it should be on the TX 71 corridor.

(sry to inject this into a thread about 290)
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thisdj78

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #38 on: January 19, 2023, 12:10:17 AM »

Meanwhile, once the lights outside of Austin are replaced with interchanges (which is happening very soon if I'm not mistaken), the only slowdown on TX 71 is in Ellinger. I'm of the firm belief that if any freeway route between Houston and Austin is built, that it should be on the TX 71 corridor.

(sry to inject this into a thread about 290)

SH-71 would be the quickest and easiest to convert to at least a free flowing expressway. I havenít seen any plans for Ellinger though.
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TheBox

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #39 on: February 10, 2023, 10:20:42 AM »


Manor has gotten some minor lane and intersection improvements in the last 5 or so years.  But if you do some research on Google Earth, the amount of new homes in that area is surprisingly small given how close it is to Austin and the huge jump in housing costs.  I don't know if the school district stinks or Travis County is slow rolling outer growth or primarily something else.

I think that will change quickly with Tesla to the south and Samsung being built to the north. I could see families preferring Manor over say Taylor for example. There are plans to built a limited access bypass from 290 to Toll 130, wrapping around the southeast-south side of Manor. Near the south end of where the bypass will meet 130 and at the intersection of Parmer just to the north, there are many new homes being built. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is where the next big shopping area is built.
TBF, there's only 5-6 places in Manor that would have to be moved or demolished (2 of which are old gas stations) to make space for the ROW

everything else in Manor can stay, freeway/tollway or not
« Last Edit: February 10, 2023, 10:36:23 AM by TheBox »
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TheBox

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #40 on: February 10, 2023, 10:26:36 AM »

and as a US-290 progress goes

a planned Brenham Bypass Re-Alignment (preferably D or E, or at the very least B), and a planned Chappell Hill Overpass

so what's next now?

Brenham Bypass Re-Alignment concepts
Concept B -
Concept D -
Concept E -

Chappell Hill Overpass concept
« Last Edit: February 10, 2023, 10:31:13 AM by TheBox »
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thisdj78

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #41 on: February 11, 2023, 11:07:04 AM »

and as a US-290 progress goes
so what's next now?

Though I havenít seen any plans, the next logical step would be a bypass around Giddings and at least extension/expansion of the 290 expressway from Manor to Elgin. Those two upgrades would probably cut off 30 minutes of travel time between Austin and Houston.
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Bobby5280

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #42 on: February 11, 2023, 08:43:06 PM »

TX DOT faces a possibly difficult job just extending the US-290 freeway thru Manor. Such an upgrade is do-able, but it's going to require buying and clearing at least a couple dozen commercial properties along the North side of US-290.

The traffic signal at Elm Creek (and Red Elm Parkway) just West of Elgin is a tight squeeze. If US-290 is ever upgraded to a freeway in/near Elgin it probably will have to be built on a new terrain path a considerably way South of town. Obviously Giddings would need a new terrain bypass too.

Quote from: thisdj78
Those two upgrades would probably cut off 30 minutes of travel time between Austin and Houston.

Freeway bypasses around Elgin and Giddings would probably save a few minutes, but I doubt if it would be 30 minutes worth of drive time. On the other hand, if all the traffic signaled intersections on US-290 between Manor and Hempstead were converted into freeway exits that would likely save more than 30 minutes of drive time. It's not just the amount of time a motorist has to sit, looking at a red light. There's all the changing speed limits leading to and past that traffic signal. The Manor to Hempstead segment of US-290 going from Austin to Houston is far from being free flowing.
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sprjus4

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #43 on: February 11, 2023, 11:57:07 PM »

^ More than 30 minutes? Doubtful. Maybe 5 or 10 at best.

The speed limit is 75 mph for most of the route, and drops to probably 55 mph at some of the signals, not counting the few towns.
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Bobby5280

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #44 on: February 12, 2023, 01:02:09 AM »

There is a couple dozen traffic signals along that way. It's not like you're going to hit every green light. And there are speed zones leading up to many of those signals. Also, I don't know where you're seeing the speed limit is 75mph for most of the route. In between traffic signals and the associated speed zones US-290 is signed at 60mph, 65mph and 70mph along much of the way.
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thisdj78

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #45 on: February 12, 2023, 01:18:34 AM »

^ More than 30 minutes? Doubtful. Maybe 5 or 10 at best.

The speed limit is 75 mph for most of the route, and drops to probably 55 mph at some of the signals, not counting the few towns.

I should say for me, since Iím always going to Houston late afternoons. Coming from the southern Round Rock/Hutto area, it takes forever to get to Elgin via SH130/290, to the point that it can be quicker to take 79 to Taylor and down 95. Giddings can get congested as well, especially at the US77 light. So to clarify: during peak hours.
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bluecountry

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #46 on: February 12, 2023, 01:15:13 PM »

I still don'
t get why there isn't a direct freeway from Houston to Austin.
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texaskdog

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #47 on: February 12, 2023, 02:56:31 PM »

I still don'
t get why there isn't a direct freeway from Houston to Austin.

Because two 4-lane divided highways sufficiently handle the traffic.
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #48 on: February 12, 2023, 03:06:53 PM »

I still don'
t get why there isn't a direct freeway from Houston to Austin.

Because two 4-lane divided highways sufficiently handle the traffic.
Why have interstates at all then? Safety reasons.
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texaskdog

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Re: US-290 between Austin and Houston (future freeway-ish upgrades when?)
« Reply #49 on: February 12, 2023, 03:38:04 PM »

I still don'
t get why there isn't a direct freeway from Houston to Austin.

Because two 4-lane divided highways sufficiently handle the traffic.
Why have interstates at all then? Safety reasons.

Hey I'm with Fritz Owl
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