Houston commutes continue to get worse despite billions in spending on new road capacity. Traveling from Downtown outbound on the I-10 Katy Freeway to Pin Oak took 51% more time in 2014 than in 2011, according to Houston Tomorrow analysis of Houston Transtar data. The Houston region in recent years has been spending the most per capita on new roads of the ten largest metropolitan regions in the nation.
Houston Tomorrow tabulations of Houston Transtar Data:
In 2014, during peak rush hour, it took 70 minutes, 27 seconds to travel from Downtown, past Beltway 8, all the way to Pin Oak, just past the Katy Mills Mall.
In 2011, this same trip took 46 minutes, 53 seconds.
The addition of single occupant vehicle capacity (SOV) and toll lanes to Katy Freeway completed in 2010 cost $2.8 billion. This was $1.63 billion more than the original 2001 price tag of $1.17 billion, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
On June 9, 2014, Representative John Culberson said the following on the floor of the US House, according to the House Office of the Clerk:
“I’m very disappointed and disheartened that my friend, Mr. Poe, would stand up and offer this amendment and call the Katy Freeway a concrete monstrosity. It’s my pride and joy. I got the Katy Freeway built without an earmark. Got it built from five year, three months. Went from eight lanes to 23 lanes. The economics has boomed because of the Katy Freeway. It’s moving more cars in less time, more savings to taxpayers than any other transportation project in the history of Houston.”
Houston Transtar has changed the end points in its calculation of travel times as sprawl continues outward and did not measure all the way out to Pin Oak in 2005. However, we can make a reasonable guess on travel time to Pin Oak before the widening of the Katy Freeway. In 2005 travel time from Taylor to Greenhouse on this section of I-10 was 43 minutes and 34 seconds. In free-flowing conditions, the additional distance to Pin Oak takes 9 minutes. The trip to Pin Oak took about 52 minutes at peak hour in 2005.
Traveling out I-10 is now 33% worse - almost 18 more minutes of your time - than it was before we spent $2.8 billion to subsidize land speculation and encourage more driving.
Similarly, TXDOT plans to provide additional SOV capacity on I-45 North, I-59 South, 288 South, and 290, which will increase vehicle miles traveled and travel times in those corridors.
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