Monday, August 29, 2011
If there is one section of highway Southeast Texans hate to travel during afternoon "rush-hour", it has to be northbound US 69 in Beaumont.
Every day, starting around 4 p.m., US 69/I-10 from Laurel to Tram Road toward Lumberton, can be a real nightmare. Traffic crawls to a standstill as drivers weave around each other trying to exit and enter the highway. However, a new project will soon fix some of that problem. It's not a difficult fix. In fact, the hardest part may be trying to explain how it will work.
And a special thanks to the Beaumont Enterprise for allowing us to use their images and graphics.
Hold on to your seat and we'll take a shot at trying to explain it all. First, the problem.
The biggest reason for congestion on US 69 is the fact motorists are trying to merge and exit US 69 at the same time and at the same places.
1) The I-10 and US 69 split near Calder.
2) The Delaware street entrance/exit.
3) The 11th Street entrance ramp just south of Lucas.
One of the biggest problems is that motorists are trying to exit the highway AFTER the group trying to enter the highway. The new project would reverse that. By having motorists exit the highway BEFORE those trying to enter the highway will solve a big chunk of the congestion problem. So, just how will the department do that? It may sound complicated. However, it really isn't. While nothing is set in stone or finalized, here is what TxDOT is looking at doing.
1) Relocate the Delaware exit ramp for those of you coming from Orange. This simply means moving it further back, closer toward Red Lobster, etc. This keeps traffic from having to interact with US 69 northbound traffic. However, you will still have a ramp to access northbound US 69. You just won't have the big mess of having to merge while others are trying to exit.
2) Close the Delaware entrance ramp to US 69 north. It's a short ramp everyone hates using. Enough said.
3) Extend the frontage road under the 11th Street underpass. Currently, the highway ends at the 11th Street overpass. Extending the road means gives you a continuous frontage road all the way to Lucas and beyond. This is very important because the next step depends on the frontage road going under 11th Street.
4) Move the 11th Street exit ramp closer to the 11th Street overpass. This means you will exit Lucas much sooner that you now do. This helps get traffic off of the highway earlier.
5) Convert the current exit ramp to Lucas into an entrance ramp. A long acceleration lane will also be built to give you some room to accelerate.
6) Close the northbound US 69 northbound exit ramp to Delaware. This means traffic wanting to exit to Delaware will have use the Lucas turnaround. Not a big deal because few people use that during rush-hour.
And now, perhaps one of the biggest changes:
7) Close the 11th Street entrance ramp to northbound US 69. Instead, you will use the converted ramp described in #6. You simply would stay on the frontage road and merge onto US 69 about a 1/4 of a mile north.
So, how does help traffic move more smoothly? It's all about reconfiguring those areas where you don't have to wonder who is trying to exit while you are trying to enter and merge with existing traffic. Imagine that!
By getting people off the highway BEFORE you get onto the highway means all you have to do is merge with existing traffic and not play bumper cars.
We'll soon be putting a new video together explaining it a bit more. In the meantime, shoot us your comments or questions. Again, it's not set in stone and we could make more changes.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Here's some great news for those of you who travel between Beaumont and Houston...
Sign crew are hanging the new signs and workers are putting the final touches on the new I-10 bridge crossing the Trinity River in Chambers County. That means come Friday, eastbound drivers will be traveling over a new bridge. It's the end of a four-year project to replace the old steel structure that had become an I-10 landmark.
The project really involved building two separate structures: one to carry eastbound traffic and the other to handle westbound motorists. About two years ago, Williams Brothers, the project contractor, completed one of the bridges and temporarily converted it to handle east and westbound traffic. They then began the long process of removing the old bridge to build another.
But come Friday morning, highway crews will have restriped the bridges to handle traffic. One will handle three lanes of eastbound traffic while the other will handle three lanes of westbound. But it's more than just a new bridge; It's a major milestone in improving I-10 between Louisiana and Houston.
Crews will also restrip the Old and Lost River bridge to handle three lanes of traffic. This means you will now have at least six lanes of highway between Winnie and Houston.
This leaves just two areas of I-10 needing rebuilding; the stretch between Winnie and Beaumont, and, the section between Adams Bayou in Orange and the LA state line. Designers are already working on the plans. However, the big problem on these two efforts is money.
In the meantime, enjoy the new six-lane highway. For all of you who have had to endure congestion and lane closures, you've earned it.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Liberty County has seen some pretty important highway projects in the past few years. However, the project to widen SH 146 may be one of the most important for the area's history books.
Today, State Representative John Otto, the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, the Liberty-Dayton Chamber of Commerce and TxDOT officially wrapped up a two year project to widen the highway to five lanes. Now, you can drive from the Chambers County line all the way to Dayton on a new highway.
Representative Otto played a major role in getting this project off the ground. Money for transportation projects is scarce. However, after seeing the need to improve the highway after numerous wrecks and fatalities, Rep. Otto worked to secure the needed funding to get the project rolling. Two years later, you and I can drive on a much safer highway, not to mention an improved hurricane evacuation route.
Let's just hope the Gulf stays quiet so we don't have to test it out.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
And you thought TxDOT workers just repaired highways, designed roads and repaired traffic signals...
Welcome TxDOT Traffic Engineering Specialist Kirk Darbonne, also known as "Mr. OneDOT". When Kirk isn't working for district's Traffic Operations, he's sharpening his singing talent. His latest piece focuses on TxDOT's "OneDOT" vision.
"OneDOT" is TxDOT's effort to work seamlessly across district lines and boundaries to make our state's highway system the best in the nation. Kirk's put the concept of working the highways and byways to song.
Click the above photo to listen in.