By John Toth
I was driving back from my son John’s wedding on a recent Monday and knew that I’d be hitting rush-hour traffic. How bad could it be? Just once won’t kill me, right?
It didn’t kill me, but it did open my eyes to what we can expect with this hyper development that we’re experiencing in Brazoria County.
Last week, I wrote that I dread driving on I-10. The speed limit is 75 mph, and you never know what can happen that will tie up traffic for miles. There are a lot of trucks that, when passing each other, create tie-ups also.
It’s just a complicated, intensive drive, but it’s the shortest way to get to the San Antonio area, so I do it most of the time. Sometimes, I take the backroads, which are usually uncrowded, but they go through many little towns with speed limit changes and traffic lights. But most of the time, I take I-10 to be done with it.
It’s been a while since I have driven on Highway 45. I used to go camping in the Conroe area with my family, but we stopped because I did not want to handle the Sunday afternoon traffic. I have avoided that road for years. But this time, on the way back from Spring, I could not. The only choice I had was to take Hwy. 45.
And, just to make it more interesting, I drove it at peak rush hour.
The lanes were flowing nicely most of the way. The HOV lane was a gift. The construction is all done. It was not such a horrible drive, considering.
I was driving in the HOV lane most of the time. There were a few slowdowns, but for the most part, I was going at the speed limit or even higher. In that lane, you have to go with the flow, or someone will rearrange your trunk.
Then we arrived at Hwy. 288 in Houston, and everything fell apart. All of you who moved into Brazoria County but work in Houston come back to the county at the same time. I was right there, parked on the highway alongside you.
I could have paid the $14 and taken the 288 toll road from 45 to Manvel, but that is just a lot of money to drive a few miles. I decided to stay on the free highway until I came to Texas 6, where the toll road ends in Brazoria County.
But the backup there extended for miles longer, as the highway narrowed to two lanes. So, even if I had taken the toll road all the way, I would have driven right into a humongous traffic jam upon exiting.
I don’t know how you can commute daily in this mess without totally wearing out your nice car and getting a nervous breakdown.
The tollway was great while it lasted, but it did nothing to help after it ended. North Brazoria County highway driving is a mess at rush hour.
It wasn’t always this way.
When Hwy. 6 was only two lanes, and the subdivisions that we have now were not even a drawing, it was a pleasure to drive up and down Hwy. 288, even at rush hour. Now, it is a nightmare.
I still remember driving up on the new Hwy. 288 two weeks after it was opened. I drove with my best man to my wedding in Jersey Village in west/northwest Harris County in 1982. It was a different world.
I’ll try to stay away from Hwy. 288 during rush hour because my schedule is flexible, but those who work 9-5 in Houston and live down here have no choice.
The trip from Spring to Angleton should have taken an hour and 10 minutes. It took two hours and 20 minutes. It would have taken longer had I not followed my GPS’s suggestion to take some detours.
This is not going to work. If Brazoria County continues to expand at this pace, we need more lanes and roads. I hate driving in Houston traffic, but after my rush-hour experience on Hwy 288, it doesn’t seem so bad.
To all you daily commuters who have to tackle this mess, I feel your pain.