February 29th, 2012
H-Town Showdown: Favorite Freeways
After last week’s list, we started thinking about the freeways that define us and our city. Not really, but we thought it might be fun to try to pick favorites. I mean, can you really have a favorite congested, oft-under-construction mess? Obviously… because there’s a poll down below to cast your vote.
I-45 — The Great I-Am-45
This is arguably the overlord of Houston freeways, worshipped for its convenience and for a speed limit that seems to serve more as a suggestion than a law. With entrance and exit ramps every forty feet and a pothole situation that seems forever unresolved, 45 is the big boy that separates the locals from the out-of-town wimps who opt for the Toll Roads. So grand, in fact, it’s been immortalized on Loop Scoop tees for all eternity. That’s kind of a big deal.
Defining Aesthetic: Inaccurate Tran Star Sign traffic updates.
Interstate 610 — Shoop da Loop
Round and round she goes. How we’re able to tack on “Interstate” to the 610 Loop, nobody knows. Making the 3AM drive is one of our favorite things to do with the tunes blasting and the windows down. Taking any trip on the southwest side of 610 is nice if you like being reminded that the Astrodome still stands. Keep in mind, we have a soft spot for the Loop if only because it’s our site’s namesake.
Defining Aesthetic: The Ship Channel Bridge or the Super Ramp access from the Galleria.
Interstate 10 — The Katy Freakway
When it comes to super freeways, I-10 takes Houston’s cake. The renovations took forever, but now we have a 12-lane behemoth giving us access to Katy that still manages to get clogged with cars. In the other direction there’s… Baytown? That might be your cup of tea. Just watch out. If you go too far, you’re going to get a steaming cup of Chicory in Louisiana.
Defining Aesthetic: Wide open spaces.
Texas State Highway 288 — The Pearland Pass
The med center might be Houston’s crown jewel and your easiest way to the throne is taking 288. There isn’t much else special about the highway than that, unless you’re a huge fan of bumper-to-bumper traffic to Pearland. Beyond that you have direct flight to such Texas wonders as Lake Jackson, Freeport and Angelton. Yep, that’s pretty much it.
Defining Aesthetic: Eclectic Menagerie Park… You know, those giant iron sculptures.
U.S Route 59 — The Galleriway
Honestly, 59 has to be the most scenic route through Houston. Your travels take you by Minute Maid Park, the new Dynamo stadium, downtown Houston, those fancy Bridges near Montrose/West U, Lakewood Church and finally the Galleria area. Route 59 also has the distinction of being the most floodingest of our freeways… well, at least in recent history. Beautiful and dangerous, like one of Bond’s girls.
Defining Aesthetic: All the lights, all of the lights.
Hardy Toll Road — The Un-freeway
Paying for the privilege to drive in Houston traffic may not sit well for some. But the Hardy is the only option for anyone looking to avoid the challenges of 45 or actually make it to IAH in time for a flight. Bonus: the high concentration of speed traps makes this the roadway most likely to provide an opportunity to live out your wildest GTA fantasies, if you’re so inclined.
Defining Aesthetic: Commitment. Once you’re on it, you’re on it for a while.
Beltway 8 — The Loop’s Big Brother
Hey 610… why can’t you be more like the Beltway, huh? You know, bigger. And more expensive. Nevermind.
Defining Aesthetic: Toll booths, three miles, toll booths, three miles, toll booths…
[All photos from The Commons except the map, from Wikipedia Commons]