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US 59 Museum District

Last updated 12-July-2001

Project Addition of 2 HOV lanes to existing 10-lane freeway.
Cost $32.5 million
Begin Q3 1999

This improvement project has added the distinctive long-span arched bridges over the trench. The spans are approximately 217 feet (66m) long. The project will add 2 HOV lanes, but will not add any general purpose lanes to the existing 10 lanes. This project is a prelude to the bigger and potentially hugely disruptive next phase: demolishing the adjacent elevated freeway and placing the freeway in a trench. That project could begin in 2002.

Construction location: US 59 museum district

June 2001
Massive flooding in Houston in June 2001 filled the US 59 trench, nearly to the very top.

Photo credited to Robert Cowart via the Houston Chronicle. The contractor for this project, Williams Brothers, reportedly suffered heavy equipment loss.

Photo contributed by Don "The Emissary" Seributra. A view of the flooded trench.

August 2000

US59 trench
This photo was taken in August 2000 during the freeway closure for the installation of the last of the four arched bridges. This view looks west.

June 2000

US 59 trench with existing bridge

Looking west, this is the freeway trench in June 2000 during a closure for bridge demolition. Four existing bridges were replaced with single-span arched bridges. One of the old bridges is shown in this photo.

US 59 new arched brigde
June 2000 bridge installation at Mandell street, looking east.

US 59 new arched bridge
As of June 2000, two arched bridges were in place. There are a total of four in this project. This view is towards the west.

Next project: demolishing the elevated structure
Originally, TxDOT planned to add a second elevated deck for HOV to the existing elevated freeway. The local neighborhood is high-income and very "inner loop" (read liberal and anti-freeway), so they wanted nothing of the second elevated deck. The next proposal was to make the existing deck wider to accomodate the HOV lanes. This was feasible, but right-of-way was severely constrained on the north side by a historic structure and on the south side by high voltage lines. The neighborhood still wasn't happy, because they really wanted to get rid of the elevated freeway. A leading candidate under consideration at that point was to put the freeway in a cut-and-cover tunnel. Fortunately, the cost eliminated that option. The final plan places 59 in a trench. There is talk of building a "signature" bridge where Montrose will cross the trench.

US59 elevated
This is the existing 10 lane elevated freeway that will demolished and placed in a trench. Tentative project letting is 2002 for this $58 million project.

US59 Montrose overpass
This is the existing bridge at Montrose Blvd. Montrose is the main roadway to and through the Museum District, and neighborhood interests considered the overpass to be a detriment to the Museum District gateway. The freeway will be placed in a trench, and there is talk of building a "signature" bridge over the trench.

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All information is unofficial and "AS IS" with no guarantees for accuracy. All schematics are preliminary except as noted.