Will efforts to decongest the West Loop ever work?

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HOUSTON-- Houston, we have a problem... yet again. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute declared the 610 Loop between Highway 59 and I-10 the worst spot for gridlock in Texas for the umpteenth time.

"The thing about we have to remember," notes optimist John Breeding, president of the Houston Uptown District, "those cars on the freeway are actually a pretty good indication of the economy."

He makes a good point, but it doesn't make the 1.1 million hours of delay we experience per year any better. Those delays cost us about $1500 bucks each a year in wasted time and gas, according to A&M.

So how do we solve it?

The Texas Department of Transportation thinks they have the answer. They approved a $70 billion, 10-year plan-- the Unified Transportation Program-- to target gridlock across Texas.

"TxDOT is proposing to rebuild the US 59 and 610 interchange," says Breeding, "and that's really going to relieve a lot of that congestion that occurs and is caused by all the merging and weaving."

Then there's the new bus lanes they will add onto the West Loop.

"If you live out Katy Freeway, out the 290 Corridor or even out the Southwest Freeway, you'll be able to take transit to work and never have to drive on the West Loop," Breeding says.

That should decrease traffic quite a bit if you can convince folks working in uptown to take the bus. Good luck with that!

They're also adding bus lanes right down the middle of Post Oak to make it more appealing. Breeding says the work at 290, once completed, will make 610 run smoother, but will it ever be gridlock-free?

"It is like the main artery in this city," the optimist explains, transitioning into a realist before our eyes, "and it will always be one of the most congested roadways simply because there's such a high demand for its use."

So sit back, relax and enjoy the "me" time, folks. If you're on the West Loop at rush hour, you're in for a looooooong ride.

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