Southwest Freeway, Texas


US 59
Get started Houston
End Rosenberg
Length 60 km
  • Spur 529
  • Rosenberg
  • FM 2218
  • Reading Road
  • Richmond
  • Williams Way Boulevard
  • Grand Parkway
  • University Boulevard
  • Sweetwater Boulevard
  • State Highway 6
  • Sugar Lakes Drive
  • Dairy Ashford Road
  • US 90 Alternate
  • Kirkwood Road
  • FM 1092
  • Bissonnet Street
  • South Gessner Road
  • Fondren Road
  • Hillcroft Avenue
  • West Park Tollway
  • West Park Drive
  • Fountainview Drive
  • Chimney Rock Road
  • Newcastle Drive
  • Edloe Street
  • Buffalo Speedway
  • Kirby Drive
  • Greenbriar Drive
  • Spur 527
  • Main Street
  • Fannin Street
  • McGowen Avenue
  • Gray Avenue
  • Polk Street
  • Jackson Street

According to indexdotcom, the Southwest Freeway is part of Interstate 69 in Texas and US 59 in Texas and forms the southwest approach road from Houston. It is the second busiest highway in the city and the state of Texas. The highway is 60 kilometers long.

Travel directions

The Southwest Freeway in Houston.

The Southwest Freeway begins as the bypass of the town of Rosenberg. The bypass has 2×2 lanes with frontage roads and a space reservation. From Greatwood, the highway widens a lot with 2×5 lanes, with an HOV lane on the inside. The highway serves the fast-growing suburbs southwest of Houston and has many major malls and other retail along the highway. From Stafford there is a HOT reversible lane that goes through the stack junction with the Sam Houston Tollway. The highway then has 2×4 lanes plus the alternating lane. After traveling straight for more than 12 miles, the highway curves east, allowing traffic from the Westpark Tollwayinserts. After this are 2×6 lanes plus a reversible lane, this is the busiest road section in Texas. Then it follows the stack with Interstate 610, after which a lot of traffic turns to Midtown. I-69 then has 2×5 lanes with alternate lanes and heads east through southern Houston, before turning northeast at the intersection with State Highway 288. The highway is then sunken with 4×4 lanes and arch bridges over the highway. This is followed by a compact stack with the Gulf Freeway, then the freeway continues on 2×4 lane overpasses along the east side of downtown Houston. The interchange with the East Freeway (I-10) has many flyovers, after which the Southwest Freeway becomes the Eastex Freeway.


The sunken portion of the Southwest Freeway and SH 288 near downtown.

US 59 was built later than most other highways in the Houston area. The highway was deemed necessary by land developers, and a right-of-way of a 17-mile stretch was given away for free by a coalition of landowners southwest of Houston. In the 1950s, two highways through southwest Houston were planned, today’s Southwest Freeway, and a highway over the stretch of US 90 Alternate, which was to serve, among other things, the immense Texas Medical Center. The first section of the Southwest Freeway opened to traffic on July 26, 1961, after which the freeway was gradually extended southwest. The Houston section was completed by 1965, after which the highway was extended into the suburbs, reaching Sugar Land in 1975 and Rosenberg in 1983.

The Southwest Freeway quickly became Houston’s premier highway for real estate development and commercial activity, with numerous mega-supermarkets and malls. Within 6 years of the first opening, there was already chronic congestion. In 1972 it was announced that the highway would be widened from 8 to 11 lanes, 2×5 lanes with an alternate lane. However, the financing crisis of the 1970s delayed the project. In 1981, 200,000 vehicles daily traveled in 2×3 lanes west of I-610. In 1989, a mega project began to widen the highway to 2×5 lanes, and west of I-610 to the Westpark Tollwayto 2×6 lanes, plus a reversible lane. After completion of the project in 1992, the Southwest Freeway immediately became Houston’s busiest freeway, partly due to the enormous relief of the underlying road network, traffic volumes increased rapidly, rising to 300,000 vehicles in 1996 and 337,000 vehicles in 2001. The volumes decreased somewhat. after the widening of the Katy Freeway (I-10).

A portion of the Southwest Freeway in the Montrose neighborhood originally ran on 2×4 lane overpasses. This was replaced in phases between 2002 and 2006 by a sunken location, while the highway was widened to 2×5 lanes and a reversible lane. This adjoined the sunken section west of the Mandell Street viaduct, east of it to Spur 527, the Southwest Freeway has been sunk more than 1 km. This part is characterized by a series of arch bridges over the highway. As of July 30, 2012, the alternating lane on the Southwest Freeway has become a HOT lane.

On February 28, 2013, I-69 on the Southwest Freeway was approved between Rosenberg and I-610. Since March 26, 2015, I-69 has also been assigned to US 59 within I-610 in Houston. With this, the entire 120-kilometer route through the Houston area is numbered as Interstate 69.

Opening history

From Unpleasant Length Date
Runnells Street 1.1 km 11-04-1958
Alabama Street (Spur 527) Kirby Drive 4.0 km 26-07-1961
Main Street Dairy Ashford Road 1.1 km 00-00-1962
Kirby Drive West Park Drive 7.6 km 24-07-1962
West Park Drive Fondren Road 3.5 km 09-04-1965
Runnells Street 2.0 km 00-04-1966
Fondren Road Bissonnet Street 3.6 km 00-09-1969
Dairy Ashford Road State Highway 6 3.3 km 00-00-1973
Bissonnet Street Wilcrest Drive 3.8 km 00-08-1974
Spur 527 3.2 km 27-09-1974
Wilcrest Drive Main Street 3.5 km 00-00-1975
State Highway 6 Rosenberg 24.5 km 00-00-1983


Downtown Houston

In conjunction with the widening of I-45 and the modification of the traffic structure around Downtown Houston, it is planned to widen the sunken section between SH 288 and I-45. There are currently 16 lanes here, with a layout of 4+4+4+4 lanes. This part must be widened to 20 lanes, with a layout of 6+4+4+6 lanes. Technically, SH 288 is here between I-69/US 59.

It is also planned that I-45 along the southwest side of Downtown will be demolished, and through traffic on I-45 will be routed over I-69/US 59 along the east and north sides of downtown. It is therefore planned to replace the viaduct along the east side of the center with a sunken location. Also, I-69/US 59 is straightened out here on the northeast side of downtown, and then blends even more smoothly with the Eastex Freeway. The current viaduct with 2×4 lanes will then be replaced by a sunken location with 18 lanes, with a layout of 6+3+3+6 lanes. The outer lanes will then be through to I-69/US 59 and the inner lanes to I-45.

The current interchange between I-69/US 59 and I-45 on the south side of downtown is a full-stack, but will be converted to a half-stack. Traffic from I-45 (Gulf Freeway) can then only enter the center at this point via the secondary road network. The interchange between I-10 and I-69/US 59 on the north side of downtown is also being completely reconstructed to smooth I-45 traffic from the Gulf Freeway to the North Freeway.

The draft EIS was established in April 2017. Work is planned to start in mid-2022.

Houston – Sharpstown

In 2018, a study was launched into the problem and possible solutions for the route from Spur 527 at Downtown Houston to Beltway 8 at Sharpstown. The Southwest Freeway is the second busiest highway in Houston (and Texas) and was last addressed in 1992.

Fort Bend County

In Fort Bend County southwest of Houston, existing US 59 will be upgraded to a 2×3 lane freeway and frontage roads to the Wharton County border. It includes 15 kilometers of the existing freeway to Rosenberg, and the conversion of 20 kilometers from the divided highway to the county line to freeway. A small section between Greatwood and FM 762 at Richmond will be widened to 2×4 lanes. The project will cost $420 million, with the additional lanes opening in phases between 2017 and early 2020.

Traffic intensities

Traffic intensities east of the connection.

Location 2007 2012 2013 2017
Rosenberg 50,000 53,000 70,000 72,000
Sugar Land 182,000 194,000 199,000 222,000
Stafford 236,000 239,000 236,000 263,000
Sam Houston Tollway 281,000 247,000 257,000 242,000
West Park Tollway 337,000 318,000 313,000 337,000
I-610 298,000 286,000 279,000 307,000
SH 288 314,000 305,000 298,000 341,000
I-45 200,000 205,000 207,000 215,000

Lane Configuration

US 59 at Westpark Tollway in Midtown Houston.

From Unpleasant Lanes Remark
Rosenburg Greatwood 2×2
Greatwood Airport Boulevard 2×5 1 HOV lane per direction
Airport Boulevard West Park Tollway 2×4+1 1 HOT reversible lane
West Park Tollway I-610 2×6+1 1 HOT reversible lane
I-610 Spur 527 2×5+1 1 HOT reversible lane
Spur 527 SH 288 2×3
SH 288 I-45 4×4
I-45 I-10 2×4

Southwest Freeway, Texas