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Officials Consider Improvements To One Of The State’s Most Crowded Freeways

As more people head to the suburbs northwest of Houston, officials hope extra money from the state will help speed up projects on one of the area's most congested freeways.



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Alan Clark with the Houston-Galveston Area Council says the population of northwest Harris County is expected to grow to close to a million people over the next couple of decades. 

But the congestion problems on US Highway 290 are already there, in the busy corridor from Highway 6 to the 610 Loop.

“For 6 to 7 hours every day it’s stop-and-go out on US 290. I actually think it’s the most congested freeway in our area.”

Some of the ramps near Beltway 8 cause a lot of backups.  Another trouble spot is near the 610 Loop, an area where they’re currently doing work.  That’s where frontage roads doesn’t go all the way through.

“We don’t want all the traffic to have to be on the freeway to get anywhere in the corridor. So being able to go along those frontage roads keeps some of that traffic off the freeway itself.”

The state recently identified $2 billion that’s now earmarked for improvements to the state’s most congested corridors.

Clark says the 290 project will get an extra $350 million. He says work that was supposed to be done over 15 to 20 years can now be compressed into 5 or 6 years.

“Mobility Now” is a community television show about the many ways we move around in the Houston-Galveston region. In each episode of this 30-minute program host Alan Clark, Houston-Galveston Area Council, discusses a different critical transportation issue with an area expert. Whether you walk, drive, bike or ride across the region, “Mobility Now” keeps you informed and gives you the tools to get involved in our region’s transportation system.

One of the projects they’re looking at is managed lanes.

“We’re going to develop 3 managed lanes that can be reversed. So it’s like getting 6 lanes for the price of 3. They’ll operate a bit like we see some of the HOV lanes operate. Only these will be tolled.”

But as the population increases, Clark says they’ll eventually have to look at ways to help people get to work without getting on the freeway.  

“And that would be to look for the possibility of putting some type of mass transit near or in the railroad right-of-way that runs along Hempstead Highway. And that’s under active  investigation by the Gulf Coast Rail District.”

The HGAC’s Transportation Policy Council meets this week to discuss specific projects under the state’s supplemental funding.  

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

News Anchor

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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