Traffic

Houston commuters get relief as Southwest Freeway connector ramp re-opens

The ramp is part of a bigger six-year, $260 million highway project to update both freeways. The Southwest Freeway Interchange Project started in 2018, replacing many of the connectors between Interstate 69 and the 610 West Loop. 

Loop 610 West-Southwest Freeway
Texas Department of Transportation
This aerial photo from September 2022 shows ongoing construction work at the intersection of Loop 610 West (overpass) and Interstate 69 in Houston.

Commuters who travel on the Southwest Freeway are getting some relief now that more lanes are open. On Sunday, the Texas Department of Transportation reopened the southbound connector ramp from the Southwest Freeway to the West Loop after being closed for more than a year.

The southbound connector ramp was shut down in April 2022 to be demolished and rebuilt to improve traffic flow between the two freeways. But, the shutdown caused Houstonians to have to deal with major lane closures and detours to get to their destinations.

"The problem that we were seeing is the connectivity between the two freeways," said Danny Perez, Public Information Officer with TxDOT's Houston District." It’s the busiest interchange in the state of Texas and it’s one of the busiest in the country. So we wanted to provide better flow but also improve safety."

The ramp is part of a bigger six-year, $260 million highway project to update both freeways. The Southwest Freeway Interchange Project started in 2018, replacing many of the connectors between Interstate 69 and the 610 West Loop.

"The connectivity is really important because what we were seeing was this traffic backing up on the main lanes of both freeways and then that causes issues,” said Perez. "So people were trying to get from one freeway to the other and they’re getting caught in a queue where they’re going to back up traffic on the mainland. So that creates a congestion issue but also creates a safety issue."

Perez said over the last few months, in order to get the project completed, they were forced to close the main lanes down on the weekends.

"It’s been very impactful for folks that are traveling through that area," he said. "We know that it’s a key corridor for folks that are getting between downtown and say the southwest part of Houston or further south to Sugar Land and Fort Bend County."

Perez said this weekend, crews were working to restripe the lanes and do some last-minute touches. Also, the Southbound US 59 exit to Chimney Rock is reopened – which has also been closed since last year.

The project is expected to be done by the summer of 2024. Perez said the next part of the project will be demoing and completing a part of the 610 Northbound Connection ramp to the 69 Northbound.

TxDOT is reminding drivers to remain safe as construction continues on the freeways.

"When you’re in a work zone, it creates a dangerous environment when you’re not taking safety or not making safety a priority, not just for the workers out there but for yourself. "We do see a lot of crashes where folks are traveling through these work zones."