How To Ease the 59 Northbound Bottleneck Between Shepherd and the Spur

The Problem: “As traffic backs up on 59 past the Spur, drivers are faced with a dilemma. Do I sit and queue here in the right three lanes, which aren’t moving? Or do I get over and zoom past until right before the split? Many, understandably, choose the latter. But what this does is create a new bottleneck at the point where the Spur diverges, because traffic is merging into the left lane and then trying to cross over to get to 288 or stay on 59.” The (Not So Obvious) Solution: “Add a couple miles of barrier and put the split (‘gore point’ in traffic engineer speak) at Shepherd. If you’ve driven this route once, you can see how it would immediately shave several minutes off the trip to Downtown/Midtown/Montrose. The Spur is never jammed in the reverse direction, so anything that effectively lengthens the Spur lengthens the distance of hassle-free 60mph cruising. But such a configuration would also help drivers continuing on 59.”

Photo: Flickr user jfre81 [license]

28 Comment

  • Zooming past the traffic until just before the split will often get you a nice ticket from the white line patrol. Don’t do it.

  • Look at all of those AHs in the left lane trying to cut in at the last minute…

  • I drive this way home daily so I know the frustation. Good thing is that lately (over the past few months) motorcycle police officers sit at the spur and motion over drivers who cross the double line and issue tickets. The more they police, the more people will learn not to cause traffic.

  • everyone’s biggest pet peeve about driving in this city should be the people that cut around traffic and dive in on/off ramps past the solid white lines. the dangers they create at these intersections for people exiting and those trying to mergo onto the freeway at the same time is absurd. these people are scum of the earth and it could be easily dealth with by just taking a little room off the shoulder to set up those white collapsible posts (similar to the I10 wasted lanes ones) as barriers. cost would be next to nothing.

  • I wish they would do the same (either barrier or police issuing tickets) on the West Loop southbound at I-10, everyone zips by on the far right and then cuts over to 610 at the last minute leaving people like me who want to head to I-10 Downtown pissed off because they slam on their brakes at the last second.

  • Love this idea. I live in Midtown and while I’m not on this part of 59 often I do blow my horn and bozos that try to cut over at the last minute.

  • and using police to regulate these actions is also quite saddening. cops only create additional hazards for traffic to avoid and it would be vastly more cost effective/efficient to have the white posts rather than paying someone to police this and put their life in danger. any benefit you get from regulating with police is negated by them being an addiitonal hazard on the road.

    blows my mind we still have to use cops to give out speeding tickets when we could just use cameras.

  • I would like to see a barrier line created at the double right turn lane on shepherd at 59 you know right by the fed ex. I get pretty irritated at the people who insist on getting all the way over to the far right lane to turn just to get right back over again to get on the freeway. Not to mention when you ate driving down greenbrier u and are just minding your own buisness and wham some a hole is coming around that curve and almost runs into the cars that are already in that lane because they dot pay attention that its a doubble right turn lane! I get stabby when I have to go that way!

  • I hate dealing with this phenomena, both here and throughout Houston, but I fail to see how this suggestion will do anything more than move the bottleneck further back towards 610. I have driven this route many, many times and seen it back up past Shepherd, even Edloe frequently during rush hour. I take the spur into midtown during the evenings and HATE how congested my route is due to 95% of the traffic in the two spur-bound lanes having to merge over to stay on the freeway… but I understand why people do it.

  • It’s totally worth the ticket not to have to sit in that traffic! :)

  • MC,

    TxDOT is doing this and it will solve the merge issues on 610 between 290 and 10.

    This is part of the current construction in the area.

  • This freeway took 10 to 15 years to redo in the 1990’s and they didnt add any capacity going north. This intersection was totally demolished and rebuilt and all that they did was make it two lanes going downtown on the spur. 59 North was the same as it has been 50 years, only 3 lanes going north. I remember when this reopened how everyone was pi$$ed since they didnt add anything, just burned tax money

  • Every choke point in Houston is made worse by jerks who race to the front of the line and then try to cut in. This kind of behavior angers me to no end. Why do people act like that in cars? They don’t cut in line at the bank or grocery check out. Why do they find it acceptable on the highway?

  • It’s TXDOT, expecting anything less than asinine design, wasteful spending, and long-term “solutions” that are obsolete in the short term is foolish. TXDOT exists as a funnel for tax dollars to corporate welfare recipients. If the solution to a transportation problem does not involve bull-dozing private property, pouring millions of yards of concrete, adding lanes, and constructing unnecessary miles-long ramps; they’re aren’t interested.

  • The rebuilding of the 59 downtown spur 12 years ago was in part due to the failing beams holding the thing up in the air. It didn’t burn tax money, it fixed a problem ( rusting beams). To have added lanes would have been a much more expensive project, due to acquiring right of way. I’m sure there’s a lot of things that TXDOT would like to improve on, but since gas taxes haven’t been raised in at least 20 years, we get the roads we want to pay for with our low taxes.

  • technically, until you reach the double white line, you can and should be allowed to merge into traffic. pushing that merge point back a few thousand feet will not reduce the congestion that is ultimately created by 45/59/288. It will make it easier for people to get into midtown.

    It will also make it easier for people to use midtown as a cut-through to get on 45 south. which won’t really ease traffic that much, since most are trying to merge into 288 traffic that gets onto 45 north.

  • TXDoT morons should have known this would be the result, but screw the 59/spur… just put W.Alabama back the way it was supposed to be, without reversible lanes, after the spur construction was complete.

    Which was apparently just more BS doubletalk from the ass-hats at TXDoT when they rammed that decision through.

    Morons driving W.Alabama still don’t understand reversible lanes.

  • Whenever I drive through that spot or the West Loop just south of I-10, I think about getting an old, giant impala that’s built like a tank just so I can play chicken with the assholes in their Lexuses and BMWs who think they are too important to wait and use merge lanes to pass.

  • Anytime I’m on that area of freeway, I’m oh-so-thankful I’m getting out of traffic via the spur, dumped right into midtown/montrose. If I were to stay on the freeway and battle traffic for a few miles, I’d likely give up at some point and just move.
    And that’s how it works. It’s self regulating. You trade less traffic for less house and more cost. So those stuck in traffic go to a bigger house that cost less. Those of us that skip that mess, go to an overpriced smaller house.

  • Moving the merge back won’t stop people from complaining about people who wait until the last second to merge.

    Even if you throw up some barriers, isn’t there a regulation that requires double white lines for a certain # of feet prior to the barriers?

  • @ Cody, excellent point

  • I support extending the barriers (they should put them in at all of the 59S/610 intersections as well), but people driving hoopties and beaters just drive over them. The ones at 527 seem to all get knocked down every couple of months.

  • I have it on good authority from a person close to the project that the US 59 & Spur 527 northbound bottleneck was INTENTIONAL, that there were powerful individuals involved, and that the traffic data that had been collected by A&M’s Texas Transportation Institute was fraudulently and permanently manipulated to effect a third party’s gain.

    I really wish that they would have come forward as a whistleblower, but I can understand why transportation engineers need to protect their reputation. If they don’t work for the government, they work for companies that get hired by the government.

  • Moving the spur entry will just push pack the bottleneck and it will block Shepherd access to the spur, which I use every day.
    I suppose they could try it with cones, but again doubt it will have much impact as the spur is NOT the problem.

    I’m not just the president, I’m a member!

  • The MC police watching line-crossers: is that what’s going on at I-10 eastbound ramp to 45 south (Exit 768B)? It causes backups on 45 from rubberneckers.

  • Niche, I apologize if I’m just slow today, but if you’re serious, who stood to benefit from such a thing?

  • Well this is great news but also a downside for me: I live next to Rice U, work in DT but my entrance to 59 is Shepherd. I hope they’ll push the closure of the Spur a bit more North in order to appease this issue?