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Total length: 285 miles (459 km)
Southern terminus: Galveston, TX, at JCT SH 342
Northern terminus: Dallas, TX, at JCT I-30
States traversed & length in each:
- Texas — 285 miles (459 km)
Major cities along route:
- Galveston, TX
- Houston, TX
- Dallas, TX
Junctions with non-related Interstates:
- Interstate 610: Exit 40 in Houston, TX
- Interstate 10: Exit 48 in Houston, TX
- Interstate 610: Exit 51 in Houston, TX
- Interstate 20: Exit 276 in Hutchins, TX
- Interstate 30: Northern terminus in Dallas, TX
Related loops and spurs:
- Interstate 345 — NOT SIGNED; 0.8 miles long; spur that extends from the northern terminus of I-45 along US 75/Central Expwy in Dallas; entire length multiplexed with US 75; not even really an “exit” from I-45, but more of a continuation of it
Length I’ve traveled: From Exit 48 (I-10) to northern terminus
Central — Entire length
Texas — Galveston, Harris, Montgomery, Walker, Madison, Leon, Freestone, Navarro, Ellis, Dallas
A quick hypertext drive: Interstate 45 is one of the intrastate Interstate routes, staying entirely in Texas and connecting the state’s two largest cities with one of its most important ports. As such, even rural stretches of this highway can sometimes be quite heavily traveled compared to other roads in the southern Plains.
In Houston, I-45 is eight to 10 lanes wide for general-purpose traffic, with a reversible elevated HOV/bus lane in the median. Even with that many lanes, rush hour in Houston still causes frequent gridlock, sometimes continuing well beyond the city’s outermost loop route (“Beltway 8,” the Sam Houston Tollway). From there north, I-45 narrows to six lanes, and just south of Conroe, it narrows back down to four.
The rural portion of the route between Houston and Dallas goes through the flat to slightly rolling terrain that is characteristic of much of east-central Texas. A short stretch goes through the Sam Houston State Forest near Huntsville, roughly 55 miles north of downtown Houston, but much of what you’ll see off to the side of I-45 outside of the small towns is farming areas. Also near Huntsville as an item of interest is a giant statue of Sam Houston, located just east of the highway at milepost 111.
Near Wilmer, as it begins to approach Dallas from the southeast, I-45 widens again to six lanes. The impressive four-level stack interchange with I-20 is typical of Texas-style stack interchanges, although its top level certainly seems to be higher than most — in particular, the left-turning movements from I-20 to I-45 utilize ramps that are as much as 65 feet above ground. North of I-20, I-45 widens to eight lanes, but doesn’t really pass through much in the way of built-up parts of Dallas (as it roughly follows the Trinity River through this area) until entering into an extremely seedy part of the city just southeast of downtown. Within a mile of there, I-45 reaches its interchange with I-30 in downtown Dallas and terminates, although the freeway continues as U.S. 75 well into Oklahoma, with an unsigned and rather mysterious multiplexed I-345 designation for roughly the first mile north of I-30.
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