The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) names several Austin roads in its list of the "100 Most Congested Roadway Segments in Texas" today. One of the local offenders, clocking in at 68th worst, is State Loop 343.
Now who can tell us where SL 343 is?
Once you learn, you won’t be surprised by the loop's inclusion on this gridlocked list: SL 343 is the whole of South Lamar Boulevard. Starting at its southern limit at SH 71 and US 290, SL 343 travels north, turning east at First Street/Cesar Chavez, until it ends at I-35.
Much like Austin’s MoPac/Loop 1 dichotomy (or 290/Ben White, or 183/Ed Bluestein, for that matter), SL 343 suffers from a little bit of an identity crisis. Wikipedia has a history of the route’s alignment, but notes “Loop 343 is only signed as such at its entrance from US 290/SH 71. There are no shields displayed anywhere along its length, nor on its entrance from I-35.”
In more news that won’t surprise local commuters: Austin's stretch of Interstate 35, from US 183 to SH 71, is the highest-ranking Travis County road on the list, named as the fourth most congested roadway in Texas. Here’s the complete list of the Travis County roads:
- Fourth (I-35, above)
- 41st (the portion of MoPac from US 183 to US 290)
- 50th (I-35 from US 183 to Howard Lane)
- 59th (I-35 from SL 275 to FM 3406)
- 68th (SL 343, from US 290 to I-35)
- 81st (US 183, from Loop 1 to I-35)
- 95th (Slaughter Lane, from Brodie Lane to State Loop 275 – see if you can figure out which Austin road that is.)
History lessons aside, TxDOT’s roadway study also imparts the cost of gridlock in Texas. The study estimates Austin’s fourth place I-35 congestion as costing commuters 2,949,091 hours a year, at an annual cost of $110.3 million.