Managing the New Katy Freeway Managed Lanes

MANAGING THE NEW KATY FREEWAY MANAGED LANES Those new center sorta-HOV lanes on the new Katy Freeway will go toll starting this weekend. Here’s a little primer to help you make intelligent purchase decisions at 65 mph or more: “The lanes will now be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Outside of rush hours, they’re a toll road: every car, regardless of how many people are in it, pays $1.10 to go the full length of the lanes. During rush hour, in the rush hour direction, single occupant cars pay between $2.00 and $4.00 and 2+ carpools are free. Those rates will need to be adjusted if the lanes are too popular, because HCTRA (who operates the lanes) has promised METRO (who gave up the HOV lane to make room for them) that buses will keep moving at full speed. Single occupant vehicles and carpools will be sorted out by a three-lane toll plaza: left lane for carpools, right two lanes for SOVs.” [Intermodality; details]

14 Comment

  • So if I have 4 people in my car and I want to go to Austin or San Antonio and leave at 9:oo AM or PM on a friday and use to HOV lane out bound, I have to pay? That is a load of compost! Way to motivate people in the conservation direction. We pay too much for idiots to think this up.

  • Who’s on first? This is absolutely nuts. Everyone using the Katy now needs to keep a supply of jelly beans on hand to throw into the toll basket. And who is starting the office pool to predict the number of wrecks stemming from those (hilarious, Gus) “intelligent purchasing decisions made at 65 mph?”

  • Is this really that complicated people?

    Also, the layout of these lanes give motorist much more room to maneuver than the older HOV lanes.

    Also, HCTRA is a much better enforcer and operator than METRO can ever dream to be.

    To anybody who uses I-10 during rush hour: How’s it been? Is is much better than before?

    I really only take I-10 west of the loop on a weekend or if I’m going to head out of town on Friday. Then I used to use the HOV because I had a car full going out of town.

  • since there is now about 6 lanes in both directions, there has been no traffic.
    most of the traffic is now inside the loop between TC Jester and I-45 at 5pm.

  • Thanks for the update Jayc.

    From what I’ve learned from HCTRA and TxDOT, initially they wanted to wait to start the tolling operation when the traffic conditions warranted it. Essentially in a few years if or when traffic build on the new road so the tolling capacity is needed.

    I think in the end, it’s good to have it open earlier when it isn’t necessarily needed. It’ll at least get the commuting public used to the concept.

  • It is better. How could it not be? The question is will it be better once they have suburbanized the Katy Prairie and added X number of new cars? Will they then have to re-widen the freeway and dismember Spring Valley again? (The whole village will end up being whittled down to one square block…) Will more tax-paying Houston properties be erased from the rolls to provide greater commuting convenience for people living outside of Houston?

    Oh, and there still is traffic–I get some every morning and about 50% of the evenings. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it still exists.

  • RWB,

    This is the kind of talk I laugh at when I go to public meetings.

    Current configuration of the Katy Freeway from Loop 610 to the Beltway is what is called ultimate. Theoretically and in reality from experiments in California and in Toronto shows there is point where adding lanes is worthless. Most cars will eventually want to exit making the inside lanes less congested and forcing everybody to the edge. Two concepts (4 lanes and 5 lanes in each direction) are the accepted maxing out of a freeway.

    TxDOT will not expand it in the future no matter what. Thats the point of the managed lanes. The interior lanes will be tolled accordingly to allow it to always travel smoothly. This along with carpooling, vanpooling, and METRO’s park-n-ride will be future options for the corridor.

    On top of the engineering background saying making it even wider is worthless, politically it can’t be widened anymore. TxDOT essentially bought all the right of way that should have been bought for the original freeway back in the 60s. Check out the I-10 history at . The detail is in the now free pdf form of the book. It essentially explains all the problems with old freeway and how 1 planner failed to see the future and another planner planned for it. I-10 in the loop is still virtually unchanged in capacity since it was built. The major traffic on it is at the I-10/I-45 interchange which occurs for other reasons.

  • OK, I travel on the freeway daily. I have followed this entire project from the beginning to fruition (I was one of about a half dozen who built a bridge over a small river for a road construction company while in college). I have been extremely impressed with the efficiency of the whole project, especially for something of it’s magnitude. If 290 can come close to handling it’s traffic load as efficiently as this product can, I’ll be impressed. I can watch traffic flow in and out from my office window all day long. It isn’t too often that traffic is backed up either inbound, or outbound halfway between 610 and the west belt. Inside the loop eastbound in the afternoons, it’s another story. Since traffic flows so well now, eastbound traffic approaching the I-45 intersection bottlenecks now. The managed lanes in the center make the most sense for the handling of commuter buses, HOV’s, etc.

  • One small clarification, you can travel HOV for free in either direction during rush hours:

    What are the HOV hours for the Katy Managed Lanes?
    5 am to 11 am and 2 pm to 8 pm, Monday through Friday, both eastbound and westbound.

  • My husband travels by HOV out to Highway 6 and I-10 every day via motorcycle. That’s been our big question — will motorcycles continue to get HOV privileges as they do now, or will they be tolled?

  • Check the FAQ at HCTRA’s Website:

    Yes, motorcyles will continue to be viewed as an HOV vehicle not paying tolls.

  • Jellybeans won’t help you Miz Brooke, unless you’re going to try and ping them off the EZ-Tag camera. The new lanes don’t take cash.

    My only concern is the same as jayc’s. Whilst I’m sure its lovely for those commuting out from the loop it has made the last couple of miles of my evening commute, inbound on I10 inside the loop, a nightmare.

  • Depending on where you are going within the loop on I-10, learning options helps.

    For example: Memorial Heights, West End, Montrose, and Midtown can be easily reach by going from I-10 East to I-610 south. Exist Woodway/Memorial and take a left. Memorial Drive is quick.

    Areas north of I-10 withing the loop can get there by I-10 east to I-610 North and exit 18th street. Take a right and you can head into your destination.

    Houston Transtar keeps a trailing 3 month average speed for most freeway segments. Check out the inbound I-10 segments from the west loop. There is a TC Jester to Taylor and Taylor to I-45 segment. What’s amazing is afternoon traffic is a little worse than morning rush hour.