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Old 09-23-2005, 07:25 AM   #1
Drysdale
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Default The Houston Wagon-Train

OK, is it just me, or doesn anyone else think that anyone on I-45 gets what's coming to them for not being smart enough to find an alternate route? Yeah, I know there are 1.5 million people on the road, but I also can think of at LEAST 4 different ways up from Houston that aren't I-45 (Cut through College station, Cut across To Corpus then up I-35, cut across to San Antonio, or take any of the state highways up). Last time I came up fom Houston, there was a lot of construction on 45, so I came by way of College Station... Easy drive and relatively pleasant. I even cut down through Glen Rose on my way DOWN to Houston three days before...

I guess I have some pity, but little understanding of the lack of forethought...
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Old 09-23-2005, 08:07 AM   #2
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Sheeple. Its a herd mentality.
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Old 09-23-2005, 09:41 AM   #3
FafnerMorell
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(Most of the details below will only be of interest to those with some knowledge of SW Houston).

Drysdale - you should know better than to believe the media. Sure, they talked non-stop about 45 - but the backroads were also quite a mess.

College Station was one of the evacuation spots, so the roads to it were also incredibly crowded (perhaps worse, because 290 didn't get the contra-flow lanes working that I-45 & I-10 eventually did). There are some back roads that were supposed to get you there in relative ease - but not sure if they really worked. I can tell about my experiences.

My wife, cats, and I left Houston around 8am yesterday after filling up with gas (which turned out to be a very good move - spending the extra hour probably saved us). Normally, I wouldn't have bothered to leave but my wife needed to be in Austin anyways & we had hotel reservations already made & she is pregnant (yes, I'm using her as a justification for everything ), so it seemed like God was giving us kind of a subtle hint (He/She has been great to us <knock on wood>). God also had a stray cat start banging on our door (no joke) at 5am before we left, so we took the stray with us as well as our regular cats - he's been good luck.

We took US 90A through Sugarland - took about 10 hours to get 10 miles. Once we made it past Rosenburg, it started to ease up a bit. The killer with the back roads is that many are just 2 lanes with just one lane headed out - but in desperation, folks were using the shoulders & the on-coming lanes, so in spots you had up to 3 lanes across (folks driving against traffic (very very few) drove in shoulder. We made it to Columbus (I-10 & 71) a little after midnight - from there on, it was 65+ MPH to Austin. I-10 to San Antonio looked very clear too - they had all lanes running away from Houston, and traffic was doing 60+ MPH.

We made it into Austin at 3am. Once we got there, there was gas galore and relatively empty streets (with most traffic headed to evac shelters).

More lanes = much faster traffic flow. Seems so friggin obvious, but it's amazing the spots were folks sat in one lane not moving for 20 minutes at a time, until they decided to spread out into the shoulders & oncoming lanes. This made a huge difference because in the single lane, someone broken down or just not paying attention would stop the 50,00 cars behind them indefinitely. If there are more lanes, then traffic moves (albiet slowly) around the obstacles (and pushing stalled cars out of the way does take time).

I don't know what I-10 was like in Katy - I imagine it was horrible. On the radio in the afternoon, they were telling folks to get off of I-10 in Katy and head towards 90A. But once they got the contra-flow going, it may have worked out fine. Once you got to Columbus (as I said), at around midnight, it was running great.

The killer was gas. Every gas station we passed along 90A was out, and in gridlock, you're still going to burn a fair amount keeping it in idle. Once you got past Colmbus, a fair # of stations had gas (very long lines). But a lot of folks would have been driving for 20+ hours by the time they got there, and there were a lot of cars in need of gas.

Overall, it was chaotic, but folks seemed to be doing good. Some great folks in small towns between Rosenburg & 71 were passing out water. Some even had cops directing traffic to improve flow (which made a HUGE difference).

One of the issues is that even if you listened to all the news reports & official info, there wasn't much you could use. It would have been very helpful for folks to announce lightly used routes (allegedly the US 90 path we took was one of them) - but I think they'd mention that sort of info maybe once every 3 hours, if you listened carefully. The rest of the time was drivel "Bob, I'm stuck on 45, and there are children playing along side of the road with family pets - it's a complete standstill, blah, blah"). Something like "Folks, get on FM148A cause it's clear, and if you're driving towards Houston on FM148A, get in the shoulder and let the 50,000 folks pass you".

Oh well, that's all for now.
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Old 09-23-2005, 09:57 AM   #4
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Glad you made it outta there man. Hope you & family have a perfectly good house to return to after all of this... (ie I hope you have a nice boring weekend watching HBO in Austin)
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Old 09-23-2005, 01:12 PM   #5
Maximus Faticus
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All the highways are congested as much or more then 45.
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Old 09-23-2005, 01:19 PM   #6
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Cut across Corpus? I think your Tx geography is a bit off. Corpus is about 3.5 hours South of houston. There are alternate routes, some of which my friends took, but even then it took 14 hours to get anywhere. I did have some friends that came south, instead of going north, and the 3.5 hour trip took them over 8 hours... and that is with "light" traffic.

The problem is simple logistics. You can't expect to evacuate the 4th largest city in the nation quickly, it won't happen. I jsut hope that people aren't stuck on the road when the storm comes in. Although there have already been those 20 + elderly killed in the bus fire, and help couldn't get past the congestion to help them.

I am hoping this ordeal doesn't discourage evacuation by cities in the future.
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Old 09-25-2005, 11:30 AM   #7
FafnerMorell
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We drove back from Austin this morning - left at 7am with a full tank of gas, and it was smooth sailing down 71 and I-10. 70+ MPH the whole way. There was light traffic headed back - almost nothing coming from Houston. Gas is still out in a lot of spots.

Southwest Houston seems to have weathered it fine. We had minor flooding from Allison back in 2001, so we were still concerned that even if Rita missed us directly, it could still sit around and drop 40 inches of rain, but nope.

Now back to cleaning up the yard, the pool, and getting the house back in order after moving all the rugs, furniture, etc.

Still, I'd much rather have a false alarm than get flooded or destroyed..

Sympathies to any folks along the Texas/Lousiana border who got hit.
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Old 09-26-2005, 07:00 AM   #8
Drysdale
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Originally Posted by Everclear
Cut across Corpus? I think your Tx geography is a bit off. Corpus is about 3.5 hours South of houston. There are alternate routes, some of which my friends took, but even then it took 14 hours to get anywhere. I did have some friends that came south, instead of going north, and the 3.5 hour trip took them over 8 hours... and that is with "light" traffic.

The problem is simple logistics. You can't expect to evacuate the 4th largest city in the nation quickly, it won't happen. I jsut hope that people aren't stuck on the road when the storm comes in. Although there have already been those 20 + elderly killed in the bus fire, and help couldn't get past the congestion to help them.

I am hoping this ordeal doesn't discourage evacuation by cities in the future.
My point was that there would be nobody going that way, and therefore it would be clear. If it taked 10 hours to get 10 miles north, 3.5 hourse to get to Corpus, which is about 7 hours from Dallas, then you're moving a lot better.
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