Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Even More Houston Road Geekiness

One messed up sign!

Okie dokie, here are some more Houston highway shots for you photo hungry road geeks out there. As always, you can click the pic for a bigger version.

The picture above is in a construction zone between Sugar Land and Richmond, Texas. The story here is that the old freeway bridge over the Brazos River is being demolished and rebuilt, so they have diverted traffic off onto the feeder streets. This was beside the feeder and is obviously a temporary sign, but you'd think they could at least take a little pride in their work! The SOUTH banner should be above the highway shield, not below it. Looks like they have more than enough room to do it, but NOOOOO!

Ultimately, this stretch of freeway is slated to become part of the new Interstate Highway 69!

US 59 braided ramp

As TxDOT has been rebuilding freeways, they have also been eliminating a hazard. The ramps on and off of the freeway to the feeder streets (frontage roads) used to go onto the freeway and then the off ramp following immediately thereafter for the next intersection. People used to pull a maneuver called slingshotting, where they would run off of a congested rush hour freeway, race down the feeder and pop back on. Plus you would have a traffic weave on the highway or on the feeder, depending on ramp placement. These braided on/off ramp combos are being put into place, and should reduce slingshotting, as well as totally eliminate the dangerous weaves. These are more expensive, but hey, Texas does there freeways like everything else...BIG!

Speaking of big, I took my own shot of one of the Katy Freeway stars. Each intersection has the star painted a different color, and are quite striking.

You can drive your car, on a road that has a star!

And just for grins, here is another shot of the new signs on the Katy. This was taken from the westbound feeder. The BGS shows the exit to the new Grand Parkway, Texas 99, which will someday be a third major freeway loop around Houston. Notice the exit number . . . 743. That's right, 743 miles to where I-10 leaves Texas and crosses into New Mexico. This may be the only Interstate anywhere that has mile markers in the eight-hundreds! That occurs when you leave Louisiana and enter Texas on the eastern side.

Katy Freeway Feeder

Here are a couple of old I-45 markers on a cross street. Looks to me like the North signs had a bad run in with a truck at one time or another.

I-45 . . . No place but in Texas

Speaking of Interstate shields, all over town on various city streets are directional signs for the freeway HOV lanes. This one is on Westheimer Road at Wilcrest. It seems that all over Houston they have standardized new Interstate shields on the wide 3-digit format for all roads. Compare the picture below with the one directly above. This is pervasive on all new signs I saw.

Directions for a quick HOV trip into Downtown

Finally, let's wrap up this post with a nice skyline shot. This is on the North Freeway (I-45) southbound approaching Downtown. This freeway has the oldest HOV lane in town. Back in the 70s, Houston had a trial of something called contraflow lanes for car pools and busses. Holes were drilled on the inside lane dividers both directions. Then just before morning rush, a truck loaded with pylons and a man on the back would drive down the lane. The man would insert the pylons in the holes, so that the outbound left lane became an inbound, or contraflow, lane. Then after the rush, the truck would again make the trip and the man would collect the pylons. Then for the evening rush, the same procedure would turn the left-hand inbound lane was a contraflow outbound lane. Dangerous? Hell yes. For the man in the truck AND for the head on freeway traffic. But, it did prove the concept of HOV lanes, and the North Freeway got the first one in town.

Downtown in sight on the North Freeway

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