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Sam Houston Tollway

The Sam Houston Tollway makes up 3/4 of the second outer loop of Houston. There are seven toll booths along its 60 miles, with six of them charging $1.25 and the other one (the Ship Channel Bridge) charging $2 for a 2-axle vehicle, for a grand total of $9.50. All of that just to drive 60 miles. Well, we drove it and paid the tolls for y'all, so here are the pictures...

Pictures

Outer Loop
We begin our journey along the Sam Houston Tollway north of Houston, just west of Interstate 45. The first of seven toll plazas we will see on the tollway is a mile ahead. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway West approaching Antoine Dr./Bammel North Houston Rd. - 3/4 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway West at the first EZTag/all other payment split. The left two lanes are reserved for EZTag customers only. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The toll plaza located near Antoine Dr. We are about to become $1.25 poorer. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway West at Antoine Dr./Bammel North Houston Rd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway West approaching Texas 249 - 1 mile. TX 249 eventually heads to Tomball and was built because the Compaq corporation built new offices in Tomball. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway West approaching Texas 249 - 1/2 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway West at TX 249 South - Hollister Rd./Fairbanks North Houston Rd. The connection to TX 249 South is made via feeder roads, but there is a new direct connection from the tollway west to TX 249 North. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway West approaching TX 249 North. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway North at TX 249 North. No control cities are used here, even though Tomball would be an appropriate one. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway West approaching Gessner Rd., Windfern Rd., and Fallbrook Dr. The interchange ahead is the northwest corner of the beltway. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway West at Gessner Rd./Windfern Rd./Fallbrook Dr. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching West Rd./Philippine St. - 1 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at West Rd./Philippine St. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching U.S. 290 - 2 miles. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching U.S. 290 - 1 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The right lane becomes exit only to U.S. 290. The federal highway stays in Texas through its entire length and connects Houston to Austin. It ends at Interstate 10 near Harper. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at U.S. 290. U.S. 290 East does not quite make it to downtown, as it ends at the northwest corner of Interstate 610. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
View of the stack interchange between the Sam Houston Tollway and U.S. 290. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching the toll plaza just south of U.S. 290. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The toll plaza just south of U.S. 290. Yet another typical Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) toll plaza. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
For some strange reason, southbound travelers on the tollway appear to have two separate ramps to Clay Rd. and Kempwood Dr. Notice how the building on the left is closer in the next picture than it is in this one... (Photo taken 3/16/05)
But this sign is a mileage sign, stating that Clay Rd. and Kempwood Dr. are 1/4 mile ahead. This is the only sign for the second off-ramp to Clay Rd. and Kempwood Dr. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching Hammerly Blvd. - 1 mile. Hammerly Blvd. goes through the Spring Branch area of Houston before ending. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching Hammerly Blvd. - 1/2 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Continuing south on the tollway, we are now two miles away from Interstate 10. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at Hammerly Blvd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching the Interstate 10 frontage road. The next exit mainly serves Westview Dr., but also serves Kimberly Dr. and Memorial Dr., which are located on the other side of Interstate 10. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at Westview Dr./Town & Country Mall. The mall is slated for demolition soon in conjunction with the massive Interstate 10 widening project that will also mean the end of the current stack interchange, now 1/2 mile ahead. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching Interstate 10 - 1/4 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at Interstate 10 - San Antonio/Downtown. For the only time on the beltway's entire length, a control point is used on the pull-through sign, and it is of U.S. 59. The federal highway is the next major interchange eight miles ahead near the southwest corner of the beltway. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
A view of the stack interchange between Interstate 10 and the Sam Houston Tollway. The interchange is less than 20 years old, but will be torn down soon to make room for the expansion on Interstate 10. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching Deerwood Dr. - 1/2 mile. The next toll booth is one mile ahead. This section of the tollway is the only part that is below grade. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at Deerwood Dr., which is a short residential street. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at yet another split of the EZTag lanes from the other payment lanes. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Toll plaza #3 (the OKRoads name for it, not the official name) on the Sam Houston Tollway, near the Briar Forest Dr. interchange. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at Briar Forest Dr. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at Farm to Market Road 1093/Westheimer Rd. and Richmond Ave. Westheimer Rd. is a major east-west arterial through west Houston. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching the Westpark Tollway - 1/2 mile. The Westpark Tollway opened in late 2003 and connects U.S. 59 and Interstate 610 to west Houston. It is an EZTag only tollway, so no EZTag means no go on the tollway, at least legally. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The next two exits after the Westpark Tollway are Bellaire Blvd., 1 1/2 miles, and Beechnut St., 2 1/2 miles. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at the Westpark Tollway. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South one mile from Bellaire Blvd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching Bellaire Blvd. - 1/4 mile. The lanes were slightly shifted to the right due to construction. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at Bellaire Blvd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Somehow we missed a picture of the Beechnut St. exit. The next exit leads to the frontage roads for U.S. 59. Remember, Beltway 8 is the designation applied to the frontage roads of the Sam Houston Tollway. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at U.S. 59 - Houston/Victoria. The hometown of famous wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Victoria is a 112 mile drive from here. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Clearview signs take over for the exit ramp split to separate directions of U.S. 59. Downtown Houston is 15 miles from this interchange. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The tollway begins curving to the southeast as the exit for W. Airport Blvd. and S. Gessner Rd. draws closer. Motorists who just got on the tollway from U.S. 59 are given the opportunity to exit before paying any toll. Airport Blvd., in this case, is a misnomer, as the road does not go near any airports. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at W. Airport Blvd./S. Gessner Rd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching Alternate U.S. 90 - 1 mile. Alternate U.S. 90 begins in Seguin, less than 30 miles east of downtown San Antonio, and ends at Interstate 10 east of downtown Houston. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South approaching Alternate U.S. 90/S. Main St./Fondren Rd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway South at Alternate U.S. 90/S. Main St./Fondren Rd. This is the final southbound exit on the outer loop before the tollway heads east. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching the Fort Bend Toll Road - 1 mile. The toll road will eventually connect Interstate 610's southwest corner to Fort Bend County. Currently, the toll road ends within a few miles north of the Sam Houston Tollway. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching the Fort Bend Toll Road - 1/2 mile. A different shield is used for southbound because the toll road enters Fort Bend County, and the other shield applies to the Harris County portion of the toll road. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at the Fort Bend Toll Road. Currently, all connections are made by the frontage roads. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
As the Fort Bend Toll Road prepares to cross over the Sam Houston Tollway, motorists on the tollway are informed that they are now one mile from Fuqua St. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching W. Fuqua St./S. Post Oak Rd. - 1/4 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at W. Fuqua St./S. Post Oak Rd. The next exit is at FM 521 in 2 1/2 miles. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching FM 521 - 1 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching FM 521 - 1/2 mile. Farm to Market Road 521 was originally part of Texas 288 before the state highway was rerouted to a freeway 2 1/2 miles to the east. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at FM 521/Almeda Rd. A railroad line runs parallel to FM 521 here. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
For the first time since near Briar Forest Drive, we have come upon a toll booth. The 17 miles between toll booths is the longest on the tollway. The next toll booth for eastbound travelers is just five miles after this one. (Photo taken 3/16/05)

Sam Houston Tollway East at Toll Plaza #4. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at the future Kirby Dr. exit. The interchange is in place to connect to Kirby Dr. if and when it is extended southward by five miles from its current end. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching Texas 288/Fellows Rd. - 1/4 mile. All connections between the two access-controlled highways are made via frontage roads. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at TX 288/Fellows Rd. Tom Bass Regional Park fills the southeast quadrant of this interchange. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching Farm to Market Road 865 - 1 mile. FM 865 ends three miles to the south at Farm to Market Road 518. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching FM 865 - 1/2 mile. Exact change is required to exit here, unless the driver is an EZTag customer. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at FM 865 and Cullen Blvd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)

Toll Plaza #5 on the Sam Houston Tollway is between FM 865 and Wayside Drive. (Photos taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at S. Wayside Dr. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching Mykawa Road - 1/4 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at Mykawa Road. The next interchange is at Texas 35 in one and one-quarter miles. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching Texas 35 - 1/2 mile. The William P. Hobby Airport is located three miles north of the tollway via TX 35. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at TX 35/Telephone Rd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching Pearland Parkway - 1/2 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at Pearland Parkway/Future Monroe Rd. The next interchange is one mile ahead at Blackhawk Rd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching Blackhawk Rd. - 1/2 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at Blackhawk Rd. Next up is Beamer Road, Sabo Road, and Hughes Road, with one ramp serving all three streets in 1 1/2 miles. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching Beamer Rd./Sabo Rd./Hughes Rd. - 3/4 mile, and Interstate 45 - 2 miles. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at Beamer Rd./Sabo Rd./Hughes Rd. Interstate 45 is 1 1/4 mile away. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East near the Interstate 45 stack interchange. An Interstate 45 shield is missing from this sign. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at Interstate 45 - Houston/Galveston. Just 32 miles separate this location from the southern terminus of Interstate 45. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Still within the stack interchange with Interstate 45 is this sign warning of the Texas 3 exit in 1/2 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at TX 3/Old Galveston Rd. We are still within the stack interchange with Interstate 45. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Motorists are given one final chance to exit before paying toll at Genoa-Red Bluff Rd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East at Genoa-Red Bluff Rd./Preston Rd./Crenshaw Rd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway East approaching Toll Plaza #6. (Photo taken 3/16/05)

Sam Houston Tollway East at Toll Plaza #6, near Genoa-Red Bluff Road. The tollway has now entered the city of Pasadena, advertised as the fastest growing city in Texas. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The first exit inside the Pasadena city limits serves Fairmont Parkway and Vista Road. At this point the tollway's outer loop changes direction to North from East. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway North approaching Fairmont Parkway and Vista Road - 1/2 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway North at Fairmont Pkwy./Vista Rd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The next Pasadena exit serves Spencer Highway and Pine Street, one mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway North approaching Spencer Hwy./Pine St. - 1/2 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway North at Spencer Hwy./Pine St. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Next up we have Pasadena Blvd. and Red Bluff Rd., one mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway North approaching Pasadena Blvd./Red Bluff Rd. - 1/2 mile. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
As the tollway approaches the Houston Ship Channel Bridge, this sign is one of a few that advise motorists to use TX 225 if the tollway's bridge is closed. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway North at Pasadena Blvd./Red Bluff Rd. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The final Pasadena interchange (and the final interchange of the Sam Houston Tollway's outer loop) is at Texas 225, one and one-half miles. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway North approaching TX 225 - 3/4 mile. TX 225 is the La Porte freeway, connecting southeast Houston, Pasadena, and La Porte. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Sam Houston Tollway North at TX 225 - Houston/Deer Park. Deer Park is located two miles east of this location. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The next several pictures show the Ship Channel bridge on the Sam Houston Tollway. This first shot shows the approach to the bridge. The speed limit, which has been 65 throughout the tollway, falls to 50 for the bridge due to substandard shoulders. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Beginning the first and shorter uphill climb to the top of the Ship Channel bridge. Motorists pay a $2 toll on the north side of the bridge. Also seen here is the gate that goes down if the bridge needs to be closed for any reason. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Continuing on the Ship Channel bridge, we see that the next uphill climb is a bit steeper than the first. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The oldest sign on the tollway, or at least the most weathered sign, advises of the toll booth in one mile. This is the only "Pay Toll 1 mile" sign we saw on the tollway. Otherwise, the only warnings of a toll booth were the signs advising motorists of the EZTag/all other payment lane split, with no reduced speed ahead signs in sight. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
Beginning the downhill descent from the top of the Ship Channel bridge, the toll plaza begins to come into view. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
The seventh and final toll plaza on the Sam Houston Tollway's outer loop is just ahead. (Photo taken 3/16/05)
And here it is, the final toll plaza on the outer loop of the Sam Houston Tollway, with the most expensive toll of the seven plazas at a rate of $2 for a 2-axle vehicle. Of course, it is less for EZTag customers. Straight ahead is the beginning of the Sam Houston Parkway and the continuation of Beltway 8. (Photo taken 3/16/05)

Continue on the Sam Houston Parkway

Page created: June 05, 2005
Last updated: June 06, 2005