The HOV lanes had been closed since Hurricane Ike came through, due to power outages and, in some cases, debris in the lanes. As more residents return to work and schools reopen for classes, traffic this week has become extremely heavy on the freeways. Another contributing factor is the outage of many traffic signals on surface streets all around the Houston area.
METRO opened the US 290, US 59 Southwest and US 59 Eastex HOV lanes at 3pm, Tuesday, Sept 23, 2008.
Because of a continuing power outage at the Pinemont Park & Ride lot (6201 Pinemont), the entrance ramp to the HOV lane will be closed. Customers who use the Pinemont lot can ride buses that will travel arterial streets before entering the 290 HOV lane or they can park at METRO's West Little York Park & Ride (15010 Hempstead) – about four miles away.
Outages along the US 59 Eastex HOV require that the Tidwell ramp and Will Clayton ramp remain closed.
On the US 59 Southwest HOV, power outages at the West Bellfort Park & Ride lot (11415 Roark Road at West Bellfort) and Westwood Park & Ride lot (9990 Southwest Frwy) require staffing by METRO Police.
To protect its officers and the public, METRO is reducing the hours of operation to 6 – 11 a.m. and 2 - 7 p.m. This will shorten the number of hours without daylight. METRO is asking motorists to reduce their speed and drive with caution in the lanes. If at any time METRO feels staff working in the HOV lanes or the public may be harmed, it will close the HOV lanes until total power is restored.
METRO started service on the I-45 North Freeway HOV lane Monday Sept. 22, 2008 when full power was restored.
Extensive damage to the I-45 Gulf Freeway HOV lane requires its continued closure.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett announced Tuesday afternoon the tolls will continue to be suspended on Harris County toll roads, in part, to help facilitate the travel of work crews restoring power around the area.