Expert Says Houston's Freeway Congestion Could Spread To Neighborhood Streets

Engineer Sam Lott speaks before the Livable Houston Initiative on the city's future mobility challenges.
Experts say if Houston doesn't do something soon about its mobility problems, the daily congestion on Houston's freeways could soon extend to neighboring streets.

Consulting engineer Sam Lott told the Livable Houston Initiative that with thousands of new people moving in, the region's hub-and-spoke freeway system is starting to fail, especially at the points where two freeways meet.  And while the inner loop will continue to be the main employment center, many new residents will settle outside the Beltway because of cheaper housing costs. 

Lott says if commuters have no other option than to drive, we could see heavy backups extend to feeder roads and side streets. 

"As congestion builds, as it happening today, when the freeway is jammed up and I'm leaving the office and I see on Transtar that West Loop is bumper to bumper from 290 to South Post Oak, then I may make a decision to take a different path."

So what's the answer? Lott says commuter rail from the suburbs would be a big help.

"I do think we are a point in time where we have to realize we cannot continue to expand the capacity of the freeway system and we have to begin to look at alternatives because of the fact that people will still need to travel long distances between where they work and where they live."

Here in the city, Lott says an elevated train system could help move people around congested areas like the Texas Medical Center.

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...