The Three Worst Houston Freeway Interchanges
Photo by TexasDarkHorse via Flickr Welcome to one of Houston's three circles of traffic hell.
UPDATE September 23, 2014: Good news: the interchange that took the top spot in this list is getting a makeover. The interchange where Highway 59 and Interstate 45 South merge going in to downtown is getting a two-year, multimillion-dollar makeover.
Last week when I wrote about the most treacherous on ramps to freeways, many of you suggested connections between freeways as possible additions. Since I was sticking with entrances from side streets, I skipped out on freeway interchanges, but there are three in particular that are such a mess, they deserve some attention.
At times, it feels as if our freeway system is just a massive tangle of concrete with little rhyme or reason. But little compares to where these arteries meet. I often wonder if the architect of these connections was inspired by an M.C. Escher painting, the design of roller coasters (ever exited Interstate 10 to the Beltway and felt as if you were 100 stories in the air?) or maybe he was just insane. Whatever the case, we are left with some of the most ridiculous and confusing interchanges in some of the city's most heavily trafficked areas.
There are certainly plenty of good examples of this spread out all over the city. But these three are the absolutely worst, a mixture of poor design and heavy use.
3. Highway 290, the North Loop and Interstate 10
The only thing that saved this from being No. 1 is the fact that it is under construction and the hopes that something will be done to repair this disaster that currently resembles a war zone. Not only does this convergence occur in one of the fastest growing parts of town, but it is extended almost a half mile as 290 and 610 meet I-10 to the south.
From every direction, this jumble is complicated to navigate, but the worst part is the stretch in between all three where a huge number of traffic lanes split off in multiple directions. Even with stenciled freeway names on the lanes, it is nearly impossible to discern exactly where to go. Worst yet, when trying to merge from say I-10 heading west onto 290 going north, you have to cross six lanes of traffic congested by people aiming for multiple exits ahead. Enter at your own peril.