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Ask 2: Why is there so much traffic on 610 at the Galleria?

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(KPRC)

At KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our new Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.

The question: Why is there so much traffic on 610 at the Galleria? Was 610 not built with the future in mind or designed to consider the traffic flow?

The answer: Danny, a KPRC 2 viewer, sent us this question. It’s a good one. Anyone who has found themselves snarled in the gridlock on the West Loop (IH-610) through Uptown and the Galleria area has probably asked the same question. The simple answer is that Houston’s explosive growth in the last several decades has forced the city to continually upgrade its transportation grid in response to the ever-increasing demands placed on it. The West Loop is long overdue for some attention, and it’s finally getting some.

The West Loop was originally completed in the 1960s, with updates made in the 1990s. While the original freeway was designed and built with anticipated growth in mind, the demands of our current population are simply too great. To alleviate congestion, two major expansion projects are underway:

  1. The METRORapid Uptown line will provide Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to the West Loop and Post Oak Boulevard beginning this spring. This project will provide rail-like mass transit between the Northwest Transit Center and the Westpark/Lower Uptown Transit Center (currently under construction along Westpark Drive between Rice Avenue and the West Loop).
  2. The West Loop/Southwest Freeway interchange rebuild project, which will be completed in 2024.

Both of these efforts are projected to reduce gridlock, improve flow efficiency at peak times during the day, and improve safety.

Every year, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute jointly compile a list of the most congested roads in the state. In recent years, the IH-610 West Loop between the Katy Freeway and the Southwest Freeway has been number one on that list -- a not-so-prized distinction. Hopefully, the improvements underway will knock the West Loop far down the list from its current peak position.

Do you have a burning H-Town-related question? Send it our way, and we will try to hunt down an answer.

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