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Culture / Travel

Houston’s Harvey Hangover Traffic Nightmare Threatens to be the New Normal

And One Brilliant Gridlock Beating Hack

BY // 09.06.17

It turns out it only takes a once-in-a-thousand-years flood to turn Houston into Los Angeles and New York. Yes, it can now take us two hours to drive 20 miles too.

As Hurricane Harvey washed away, an unprecedented gridlock’s washed in. Super Bowl week traffic was nothing compared to this — and this could be Houston’s new normal for some time. Of course, sitting in traffic, even endlessly, is nothing compared to losing your house. Or even your life.

Many of us stuck in traffic are still the lucky ones. But just try telling that to a car full of screaming kids. Or grumpy oil executives.

Want to get from The Heights to The Galleria area in the morning? That will be 56 minutes. Are you commuting home to The Woodlands anywhere near rush hour? Set aside two to three hours. At least. This is Houston’s new normal — and it has everyone from news anchors to construction workers losing their minds.

“I thought we got past the worst of but this Houston traffic today,” KPRC’s Lainie Fritz tweeted with enough frowny face emojis for a zombie invasion.

There are roads in New Delhi operating at a higher efficiency than many of Houston’s major arteries at the moment. Call it the Harvey hangover from hell. Sections of several major roadways in the nation’s fourth-largest city remain closed due to the historic flooding, including chunks of Beltway 8, Memorial Drive and the Allen Parkway. Other roads are still completely underwater.

Compounding things further, a number of traffic lights are also out across the city (Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says that 73 of the Bayou City’s 2,500 traffic lights are down, but he expects many of those to be fixed today). The equally historic recovery and cleanup efforts going on in Houston also put many more trucks and responder vehicles on area roadways.

No, those National Guard caravans are not a usual thing — though anyone that needs their help is beyond thankful to have them.

This is simply no time to drive in Houston — and things aren’t expected to get better anytime soon.

With Houston’s midnight curfew lifted for all but hard-hit West Houston, several of the city’s more enterprising restaurants and bars are advocating for a unique gridlock hack. Take cocktail king Bobby Heugel. Heugel, who deserves a ton of credit for pushing to end a curfew that screamed things were anything but back to business as usual in Houston, took to Twitter and Instagram with his plan for tackling the worst traffic in the city’s history.

“Why not chill out for an hour over a cocktail or two instead of just sitting in traffic the whole time?” Heugel writes. “Happy Hour or Hours of Sadness — you decide.”.

After all, fighting this traffic makes about as much sense as Ezekiel Elliott’s life plan. You’re smarter than that.

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