US-290 can seem like a parking lot during rush hout, but some relief is on the way. New HOV lanes are being created along the busy thoroughfare.
"It's horrible in the mornings." Yvette Barker is talking about her daily drive down 290. She's worried that her commute is only getting worse. "The commute will be two hours instead of an hour so that will be really bad," she told us.
TxDOT and Metro are working to keep that from happening. To help keep traffic flowing, they are extending the HOV or "Diamond Lanes" past Eldridge, all the way to Skinner. The extra lane will help non-HOV commuters, too. "It's just going to free up those lanes for them because it's getting those carpoolers into another lane," Karen Othon, TxDOT Spokesperson explained.
Once the diamond lanes are open, they'll operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The lanes will be open to cars carrying two or more passengers, including riders using Metro's Cypress Park and Ride. "People who use that park and ride from further out west, they'll just be able to get out 290 and get out into that diamond lane and just head all the way in and just access the HOV lane easily," Othon said.
To create the lanes, TxDOT is restriping the inside shoulder lane on both sides of the freeway to minimize construction. The goal is to save drivers time when the lanes open in June. In fact, TxDOT extimates a 20 minute time savings for drivers who carpool.
"I think it will help a lot because you have a lot of subdivisions in that Barker-Cypress area and the Fry Road, so all of those persons commuting into Houston, they'll be able to catch the HOV lane at an earlier space," Barker told us.