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610 Loop

Interstate 610
;">Route information
Maintained by TxDOT
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Beltway around Houston
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Template:Jct/extra US 90
Template:Jct/extra I-69 / US 59
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Template:Jct/extra US 290
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;">Highway system

Interstate 610 (abbreviated I-610) is a freeway that forms a 38-mile-long (61 km) loop around the downtown sector of city of Houston, Texas. Interstate 610, colloquially known as The Loop, Loop 610, The 610 Loop, or just 610, traditionally marks the border between the inner city of Houston ("inside the Loop") and its surrounding areas. It is the inner of the two Houston beltways, the other being Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Tollway). Interstate 610 also runs through the city of Bellaire.

Route description

Major segments of Interstate 610 are known as the North Loop, the South Loop, the East Loop, and the West Loop. The North Loop runs from U.S. Highway 290 to U.S. Highway 90. The East Loop runs from Highway 90 to State Highway 225. The West Loop runs from Highway 290 to the South Post Oak Road spur, and the South Loop runs from South Post Oak Road to Highway 225. Sometimes, a direction name is added as a suffix to denote a more specific part of a portion of the loop and this does not denote the direction of traffic flow.[1] For example:

  • North Loop West Freeway[2] refers to the portion of the North Loop between Highway 290 and Interstate 45. North Loop East[3] refers to the portion between Interstate 45 and Highway 90.
  • East Loop North Freeway[4] refers to the portion of the East Loop between Highway 90 and Interstate 10. East Loop South refers to the portion between Interstate 10 and State Highway 225.
  • South Loop East Freeway[5] refers to the portion of the South Loop between State Highway 225 and State Highway 288. South Loop West[6] refers to the portion between State Highway 288 and the South Post Oak Road spur.
  • West Loop South Freeway[7] refers to the portion of the West Loop between the South Post Oak Road spur and Buffalo Bayou (which is just south of Interstate 10). West Loop North[8] refers to the portion between Buffalo Bayou and Highway 290.

Lane configurations


Starting at U.S. Highway 290, moving in a clockwise direction, mainlane counts are as follows:[9]

  • 4 lanes each way between U.S. Highway 290 and Interstate 45
  • 6 lanes each way between Interstate 45 and Interstate 69/U.S. Highway 59
  • 4 lanes each way between Interstate 69/U.S. Highway 59 and Interstate 10
  • 5 lanes each way between Interstate 10 and State Highway 225
  • 4 lanes each way between State Highway 225 and State Highway 288
  • 5 lanes each way between State Highway 288 and South Post Oak Road spur
  • 5 lanes northbound, 4 lanes southbound between South Post Oak Road spur and Bissonnet exit
  • 5 lanes northbound, 5 lanes southbound between Bissonnet exit and Bellaire Boulevard exit
  • 4 lanes northbound, 5 lanes southbound between Bellaire Boulevard exit and Woodway Drive
  • 5 lanes each way Woodway Drive and Interstate 10
  • 6 lanes each way between Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 290

History


The concept of building a bypass highway around Houston was first proposed in 1931, but plans did not begin to formalize until 1941. The loop was initially proposed to transport troops and materials around the city. On May 3, Harris County voters approved a bond to build the "Defense Loop". It was officially designated as Loop 137 in 1942, and the North Loop was approved by the Texas Transportation Commission. World War II delayed construction of the Loop until the 1950s.

In July 1953, the city of Houston asked the Texas Transportation Commission to include 2 new sections of Loop 137 (the West Loop and the South Loop) as part of the state's highway system. It was initially rejected, but in October 1954, the North Loop was upgraded to a freeway, and the West and South Loops were approved as freeways.

When the Interstate Highway system was authorized in 1956, the then C-shaped Loop 137 (now designated Interstate 610) was adopted into the plan. The East Loop would not be approved until 1960. That segment was finished in 1973 with the opening of the Sidney Sherman Bridge over the Houston Ship Channel.

Construction on the North Loop began in 1950. Construction was sporadic throughout the 1950s and 1960s. It was completed in 1976 with the interchange that connects Loop 610 to Interstate 10 east of Houston.

In the early 1990s, TxDOT proposed a widening project for the West Loop, which at the time was the busiest freeway in Houston. One of the proposals was for a dual-dual freeway with a total of 24 lanes in some places, which would have made it the widest freeway in the world. Amid vocal opposition and little apparent support, the plans for expansion were cancelled.[10]

In the late 1990s, the need to repave and reconstruct portions of the West Loop became evident. The reconstruction project was approved, but only as a "no-capacity-added" project; only safety and structural improvements could be made.[10][11] However, some Houston residents have noted that merging lanes and exit ramps are particularly long and in effect, serve as additional lanes.[12]

Exit list

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See also


References

External links

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  • 3-Digit Interstates profile for I-610
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