Latest Mindboggling TxDOT Video Shows Off Rainbow Tangles of Spaghetti-tastic Downtown Freeway Redo Plans in Simulated Drone View

Having trouble sifting through some of the massive freeway jumbles in the latest plans for that major I-45 reroute between Downtown and the Beltway? This new video (making the rounds this month as TxDOT hosts a set of public meetings to chat about the project) may or may not help you out. The 10-minute animation shows off what the project plans look like in multicolored, car-spangled 3D action, dragging viewers slowly along the entire project route from Spur 521 up to Beltway 8.

The project plans pull 45 over to the east side of Downtown, to line up alongside US 59 and dive underground behind the George R. Brown convention center. Various flavors of new express lanes, managed lanes, managed express lanes, and connectors weave into and out of a massive new 45-59-10 junction as shown above, all labeled by color. Here’s a clip of the above video showing just that section of the animation:


Here’s the proposed new look of the area where I-45 currently skirts the western edge of Downtown toward the Pierce Elevated — a set of Downtown connector ramps trickles out drivers as far as Jefferson St. instead, as shown here:

Below, I-45 can be spotted twisting east alongside I-10 toward 59, and the set of new Downtown drop-off ramps split off, highlighted in orange. A pair of I-10 express lanes cuts through the fray in blue, evidently meant to avoid the 45-10 exchange traffic. The latest plans may give U of H Downtown a slightly better idea of how much of its newly purchased land to the north of I-10 will be freeway-ed over as part of the changes.

There’s lot more to parse in the designs — including TxDOT’s estimate that the whole thing will “displace approximately 168 single-family residences, 1,067 multi-family residences, 331 businesses, 4 places of worship, and 2 schools.” If you missed out on the 2 public meetings held earlier this week, there’s 1 more scheduled for Monday evening over at the Saint Arnold brewery.

Images and Video: HNTB and TxDOT

Painted By Number

17 Comment

  • Looks like a fustercluck.

  • Glad I’m young enough to have a shot at fixing this thing in 30 years.

  • Are they going to keep 4 lanes of through traffic on I10 all the way East & West through DT? Couldn’t see in video but that’s my primary concern. Otherwise it’s all a waste and I can imagine it’ll be even more of an inconvenience for those of us that travel through the DT corridor outside of rush hour.
    I can see some efficiencies though. No way they’re going to be worth the price tag and trouble of this whole thing though. Let’s play a game of what new infrastructure we could’ve had built rather than trying to retrofit everything.

  • I remain concerned about connectivity into and out of the downtown area from the east and south. The placement of ramps and the consequent effects on surface street traffic flow still do not appear to have been coordinated very well. And I’m still thinking that a series of downtown connectors from I-45 that follow the Pierce Elevated ROW to N/S streets like Fannin/San Jacinto and Austin/La Branch could help to better distribute traffic flow along the grid. At the very least…make stub-outs for a future project and protect the ROW.
    I also wonder how well it will integrate with the Gulf Freeway once it is inevitably re-built and expanded inside of Loop 610. It will happen. It is coming. And perhaps so is the SH 35 realignment to Alvin. That prospect begins to looks like a huge bottleneck unless it can somehow be routed through the railroad ROWS to the Hardy ROW and joined with that project. This is the sort of conceptualization that they need to start thinking through more systematically — and right now!

  • lawdt would hate to live anywhere where i had to use 45…..

    those interchanges around the 45 beltway are kind of interesting. its like a freeway to a freeway to a freeway all side by side

  • I like it, looks like they removed a lot of exits and complicated mergers which cause the majority of traffic problems.

    Now, is it worth the years of headache due to construction and the massive cost? I can’t say. But this will certainly improve traffic flow through downtown.

  • Damn, you mean I went to HCC when I could have waited and been at a brewery? They should have all meetings for this mess at a place you can drink. I expect both the public and the TxDOT reps need that.

    Just wait till you get those 70-foot high flyovers at the I-45/I-10 interchange. It will be the best view of downtown anywhere! Certainly better than all the views that it will block from the Heights.

  • Man, Sylvester will be bummed to find out TXDOT is eliminating Old City Hall. Not to be found in it’s usual prominent place in the video.

  • This looks like an investment in the future of keeping Houston a city that’s foremost for cars, not people. If there are really Scrooge McDuck heaping billions of dollars to spend, we should spend it in a way that helps move us to a better future of fuller transit networks, living closer to work, complete streets, and did I mention transit? Not a doubling-down on car-dystopia.

    Sigh. At least it isn’t more Grand Parkway expansion. That’s just straight-up evil.

  • @TheNiche I’m also concerned about downtown access from the east and south. I drive on the Pierce Elevated every workday and those northbound exits to Allen Parkway and Houston/Memorial are heavily used, providing near direct access to the city courthouse, the theater district, and other destinations. With the Pierce removed reaching these would require driving through downtown on the local streets or going “the long way around” on the newly realigned freeway.

    I think the Pierce Elevated should remain mainly for this reason, even if it becomes a tolled section of roadway. It doesn’t even have go all way through as it does today; I’m pretty sure drivers would like the more direct access.

  • Best example of Texan grandiosity and stupidity.

  • While the video is great and all, it stands to reason that if you need to WATCH a video before driving on the thing, the road configuration is too complicated.
    All of this is a future mess replacing a current mess.

  • Houston continues to try to make the same mistakes as Los Angeles did as it continues to grow. Most cities are actually learning that these monstrosities do not work. Except Texas cities. If you wanted to have a walk able city in the future, or at least a walk able inner core, this sure doesn’t help it. Nothing more than line the pockets of developers to keep taking people to the suburbs. This project is about as stupid as the Texas Trans Corridor.

  • One thing I noticed is the 59/69 HOV exit ramps are listed to be removed in the posting below but are shown standing in the video. The video has them there but no cars or distinctions. I was personally really hoping for this improvement as the exits to downtown for 59/69 dead end into Minute Maid which is a nightmare.


  • @ Ron: You’re giving the Trans Texas Corridor far too much credit. That was a truly nonsensical proposal, and even the lowest-hanging fruit, Austin’s SH 130 toll road, has not performed well at all.
    As for Houston, rebuilding the downtown loop and I-45 to Beltway 8 is a project that’s been a very long time in coming. It is almost entirely located within the City of Houston; it connects the urban core to its primary commercial airport. It will be used extensively by inner-city constituents; and although it will also be used by suburban constituents, the project can hardly be said to extend beyond the periphery of suburban development; and increasing the carrying capacity of that roadway will enhance the size of the labor pool and the customer base for which the urban core is a convenient destination. Although I have specific concerns regarding its design and implementation, I would be inclined to count that as a win.

  • @theniche the specific problem with the i45 reconfiguration is the part around downtown. from i10 northward, that’s awesome and needs to happen. the part of it through downtown. that’s horrid.
    they remove the pierce elevated which will only profit high end developers who I’m sure are lining up to get the land. They take a whole community of poor people and displace them. They take nearly 20 blocks worth of east end. They elevate the freeways on the north side of town where lots of poor people live.
    I have half a mind to print out the plan and take it over to clayton homes, show it to all those residents: “See, this is the new freeway, this area underneath it, yeah, that’s your homes!”