Category Archives: navigation

Why must you slow down?

MoPac between 360 and 71

MoPac between 360 and 71

The section of MoPac between TX360 and TX71 has to be a mini Bermuda Triangle. For some reason traffic just slows the hell down to 55 or 60 MPH from 65 MPH. The speed limit is still 65 MPH, but everyone just slows down. It’s just incredible every time I drive down this stretch of MoPac that the slowness happens. It’s not a very confusing area except for a left-hand exit, which is clearly marked way in advance (unlike other interchanges). It’s quite the mystery.

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This sign big enough for you?

Left lane US183

Left lane US183

You’d think something as important as trying to get on the highway would require a large sign to get your attention. Nope! Why waste something like that on an overhead sign when a 3 foot sign in the median would work just fine like this one at US183 and Braker Lane? That’s a nice big FU from the transportation department.


I-35 On-Ramps

Downtown Austin has the shortest on-ramps.

Downtown Austin has the shortest on-ramps.

The on-ramps on I-35 through downtown Austin are relics of a time past when interstate travel was sparse and leisurely. Today, it’s a total fustercluck. The short on and off ramps are antiquated with so much traffic. Even with sparse traffic you just hope some inattentive moron isn’t going to block you from getting on the highway.

So short!

So short!

The above view is another shot from Google Street View showing the on-ramp at Cesar Chavez. Google Street View usually have a wide angle which makes things look farther away than they actually are. The on-ramp lane in the image shows it being really short. If it looks short in an image that’s suppose to make it look longer, then it must be short in real-life!

It’s so short that if you go up to highway speed, you need to get off the damn freeway immediately! And if someone doesn’t move over for you, then you’re getting off the highway and getting back on again at the next on-ramp (after a couple traffic lights). You could be one of those entitled weenies who just stop on the on-ramp and wait it out. At that point I hope some truck passes you while on the upper deck and the wake causes your stupid car to fly off. No, I’m not bitter at all.

There has been plans of burying I-35 through downtown and having a wide boulevard run on top of it with just one set of on and off ramps at both ends of the zone. What would be cheaper is to just build these endzone on and off ramps with a long lead and close off all the exits between Cesar Chavez and MLK. Six access ramps within a mile is overkill. It would totally be a lot cheaper to accomplish these end-zone access ramps as well. But what do I know, I’m not a civil engineer.


Dumb Traffic Lights on 360

Stupid traffic light on 360

Stupid traffic light on 360

The Capital of Texas Highway also known as Loop 360 stretches from North Austin to South Austin. It would be a great alternative to MoPac and I-35 if it weren’t for the bloody traffic lights! It’s designed to be a big highway to allow a lot of traffic through, but the traffic lights make it as useless as the city streets for getting across town easily.

There is a traffic light at the southern terminus of 360 that is super-idiotic. It runs on a timer instead of a sensor so it stops traffic for no good reason. The stretch that this light is on connect MoPac with US270/TX71 and is on an incline. Going south from MoPac you’d have to accelerate to go uphill. It’s a waste of gas if you have to come to a stop mid-way up the hill. On the other side coming from US290/TX71 the incline goes downhill. So at the light you’d burn up your brakes coming to an unnecessary stop.

I could understand access to the office building there is important during morning and evening rush, but why the hell is the light still operating after hours and on weekends? Especially if there is a hidden side-street that goes to a different intersection. The issue needs to be addressed!


MoPac and 71

MoPac and TX71/US290 is one of the more confusing interchanges in town. The overhead sign for the interchange describes three exits at the same time:

So, which one should I take?

So, which one should I take?

In reality, the first two exits go to the same place:

They all go to the same place!

They all go to the same place!

The third exit is a fly-over for westbound US290/TX71. Note that the sign doesn’t indicate eastbound TX71. That particular stretch of highway is both US290/TX71 until it hits IH-35 on the east side of town. To go onto eastbound TX71/US290, you have to get on the frontage road, cross Southwest Parkway, go under TX71/US290, turn left on the frontage road, then cross Brodie Lane, and then finally hop on the on-ramp for eastbound US290/TX71. What a mouthful, right?

So once you’re on the frontage road, you get a very informative sign that tells you eastbound US290 is the next left:

Convenient?

Convenient?

Guess what? You will end up going onto northbound MoPac if you make that left:

Yeah, fk you, you don't need to get on eastbound US290 anyways.

Yeah, fk you, you don’t need to get on eastbound US290 anyways.

Also, while you were in the left lane preparing to turn left, there is a smaller, overloaded sign on the right median telling you to actually go straight through the intersection:

Make up your damn mind!

Make up your damn mind!

* Take a deep breath *

I’m surprised there aren’t more road rage incidents or something to help pacify motorists. This interchanged is all sorts of messed up. Seriously, TXDOT, WTF?!


Eastbound and Down

I’m rarely on I-35 and even rarer needed to go on eastbound TX71 from I-35. The other day I needed to go the airport from downtown and knew I needed to take eastbound TX71 there, so I’m on the lookout for the off-ramp. If you’re not already familiar with the roads in Austin, you’re gonna have a bad time. Here I encounter the junction of I-35 and TX71. It could be a dedicated fly-over or it could put you on the frontage road or there just isn’t an exit. You never know unless you’ve driven here before. Well, the signs only indicate a westbound route. This leaves you thinking if there’s another exit or no exit for eastbound.

On I-35 southbound towards TX71/US290

On I-35 southbound towards TX71/US290

Getting closer, there is no sign indicating there is an eastbound TX71 exit. Knowing very well that I needed to go to the airport, I took my chances with the westbound exit because of the airport sign.

On I-35 southbound towards TX71/US290 about to exit

On I-35 southbound towards TX71/US290 about to exit

Lo-and-behold there’s the sign indicating the exit for eastbound TX71! Why oh why wasn’t this marked earlier?!

TX71 eastbound: left fork

TX71 eastbound: left fork


The Domain, Next Right

The Domain, next right

The Domain, next right

The Domain in Austin is a mixed-use, purpose-built retail mall/apartment complex. This sign seems rather informative about how to get there, until you actually attempt it. Going northbound on MoPac you want to exit at Duval/Burnet. Once you get off the highway, you need to make a split decision quick as diagrammed below:

Seriously? Really?

Seriously? Really?

The distance between the off-ramp and the entrance to the Domain is ridiculously short! Not only that, but the frontage road has a speed limit of 55 MPH! You have to cut across two lanes of traffic and then slow down to make a near-hairpin right turn! Who designed this crap?! And actually, if you knew how the roads were laid out (and who fkn does without living and driving here first) you would actually exit at Braker Lane (the exit prior to this one) and have a more logical way to get to the Domain!

Source: Google Maps