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Transportation

Southwest Freeway Study Aims To Ease Congestion

The Houston-Galveston Area Council is floating some ideas on how to reduce congestion on U.S. 59 South. Transportation officials want to hear what the public thinks about the plan.

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Freeway entrance to U.S. 59 South in Houston
The Houston-Galveston Area Council says redesigning entrances and exits would improve traffic flow on U.S. 59 South.
HOV lane on U.S. 59 South in Houston
Transportation planners say allowing for two-way traffic on the U.S. 59 South HOV lane would help ease congestion.
The stretch of US 59 South from downtown Houston to Beltway 8 carries about 300,000 vehicles a day. But because of right-of-way constraints there’s not a lot of room to expand.

H-GAC’s Alan Clark says that means they need to come up with other ways to keep traffic moving. One of the ideas they’re considering is a system of dynamic message boards that give specific information about accidents and slowdowns. They’re also looking at reconfiguring entrances and exits near Buffalo Speedway and Kirby.

Clark says another idea is to allow two-way traffic on the 59 South HOV lanes. He spoke after the Transportation Policy Council meeting.

“It would provide a much more reliable experience for those that are using transit, hopefully encourage more people to use transit or to do a vanpool or a carpool,” says Clark.

Clark explains those improvements would cost well into the millions, but in the long run they could save a lot of money for taxpayers.

“On an average year the congestion costs are over $200 million on this section of freeway alone,” says Clark. “So we could implement these recommendations. They would pay back to the public several times what the investment cost would be.”

H-GAC is currently seeking comment on the plan and there’s a public hearing set for November.

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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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