HOUSTON - Fender benders, road debris and heavy trucks barreling into bridges are all part of the daily routine for Patricia Marcine and millions of other Houston drivers.
Patricia lives just off I-10, near Beltway 8, on the West Side. The architectural intern said her commute is always an adventure.
“Every day that I get in my car and get ready to go to work, I have no idea what the Houston roads have in store for me," Marcine said. "It has taken me upwards of an hour and a half to get from here to east downtown. It's either hectic or a breeze -- there's no in between."
Danny Perez, of Texas Department of Transportation, attributes the increased drive times to more people on the highways.
“There's just a large amount of folks coming into Texas. Population is increasing,” Perez said.
Our region is growing so fast, commutes are getting longer and longer for many people. KPRC Channel 2 News crunched drive times from the north, east, south and west to find out who is sitting in traffic the longest.
Using data from Houston TranStar, we started on the northeast side at 59 inbound from Townsen Boulevard. If you leave at 7:30 a.m., the average drive time is 32 minutes. That's up a minute from last year.
Leave at 7 a.m. and you'll save about three minutes.
“One of the big things we try to stress to people is to know before you go,” Perez said.
Before you head out the door, catch Jennifer Reyna’s morning traffic reports. Houston TranStar's website also tracks accidents and drive times.
“It's also good to know an alternate route,” Perez said.
The dreaded 290 is a pain for northwestside viewers. From Barker Cypress to downtown, at 7:30 a.m., you're looking at 41 minutes. The good news is that's down three minutes from last year.
“That widening is very important for getting folks to and from where they need to go,” Perez said about the ongoing construction.
On the South Side -- the Gulf Freeway -- it's 51 minutes in from 646 to Downtown. That’s threeminutes faster than last year.
“With the increased population in Galveston County, not only are we widening 45 and portions of Harris County, we're also widening 45 down in Galveston County,” Perez said.
On the North Freeway, from 1488 to Downtown, the average drive time at 7:30 a.m. is 55 minutes. That's up three minutes from last year. But if you leave at 7 a.m., you'll save five minutes. However, more relief is coming.
“We have some major projects -- I-45, 290, for instance -- that will be complete in the next few years," Perez said.
By far, the longest commute goes to the folks in Katy, who have the dreadful stretch of 1-10 from Pin Oak to Downtown. At 7:30 a.m., you're spending a whopping hour and seven minutes in traffic. That's up seven minutes from last year. But the secret is to leave the house at 7 a.m. and you'll save 16 minutes of agonizing gridlock.
Marcine battles the Katy Freeway each day and said a simple fender bender can wreak havoc on her commute.
“If there's an accident really anywhere on I-10, it's a disaster,” she said.
Marcine uses Google Maps and Waze to help her navigate.
TXDOT is banking on those big projects to take a bite out of your drive time.
“We ask folks to just be patient with us, because it takes time,” Perez said.
Another huge project in the works is rebuilding the connector ramps from the Southwest Freeway to the West Loop near the Galleria. The estimated completion date is 2021.
In the meantime, TXDOT is working on its own app to help drivers save time.
Click here to check your commute.
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