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Allen Parkway
Buffalo Parkway
Length: 2.3 mi (4 km)
West end: Shepherd Drive
East end: I-45
Counties: Harris
Major cities: Houston

Allen Parkway is an arterial road west of Downtown Houston, Texas. It has a distance of approximately 2.3 miles (3.7 km), running from Interstate 45 west to Shepherd Drive, where it becomes Kirby Drive. Originally known as Buffalo Parkway[1], it was later named after John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen, the founders of Houston.


Location and interchanges

The entire length of Allen Parkway is considered a limited-access parkway and closely follows the south bank of Buffalo Bayou. Memorial Drive, another limited-access parkway, closely follows the north bank of the bayou. Allen Parkway passes under Studemont Street/Montrose Boulevard, Waugh Drive, and Shepherd Drive. At the Waugh Drive and Studemont/Montrose interchanges, which have exit and entrance ramps and feeder roads on each side, Allen Parkway is below grade. The south side (eastbound) has continuous feeder roads, the north side (westbound) has discontinuous feeder roads. Access is not controlled at Dunlavy Street, where traffic to or from Allen Parkway can cross the median. Also, there is a stoplight at Taft Street for eastbound traffic, which is a Continuous Green T-intersection.

Unusual configuration

The intersection of Allen Parkway and I-45 was once known as the Spaghetti Bowl because of the numerous curving entrance and exit ramps.[2][3] Motorists traveling eastbound at the eastern terminus can exit to Clay Street, Dallas Street, I-45 northbound, or I-45 southbound. The merge onto I-45 South is known by long-time Houston residents as one of the most difficult merges in the Houston area.[4][5]

Motorists wishing to travel westbound on Allen Parkway can enter via Walker Street, Lamar Street, or by way of an entrance ramp which collects traffic from Sabine Street, and I-45 northbound and southbound. The eastbound feeder ends at West Dallas Street. A portion of the roadway also used to be known as "The Deathtrap" because of an odd number of travel lanes and bridge supports for a railroad positioned in the middle of the road.[1][6]


Allen Parkway rarely suffers from heavy traffic congestion. At the Montrose Boulevard interchange, the busiest location, there are less than 29,000 vehicles per day.[7] Allen Parkway has three mainlanes in each direction, except at underpasses. In addition, Allen Parkway ends at the eastern boundary of the River Oaks neighborhood, providing a means for these residents to quickly reach downtown Houston.


Due to its proximity to the flood-prone Buffalo Bayou, the underpasses are subject to flooding during heavy rains and flood gauges can be seen. In June 2001, though, heavy rains from Tropical Storm Allison caused Buffalo Bayou to overtop its banks and flood the entire parkway, in some places, to a depth of eight feet.[8] Even the KHOU-TV television studios, at a slightly higher elevation than Allen Parkway, were flooded.[9] Most of Allen Parkway is more than 30 feet (9 m) above the normal level of Buffalo Bayou.[10] However, the level of the bayou during the storm was more than 30 feet (9.1 m) above normal.[11]


Allen Parkway forms the entire southern boundary of Buffalo Bayou Park. The parkway also ends just west of Sam Houston Park in downtown. Jogging and bike paths follow Allen Parkway for its entire length, though the trails occasionally dip downwards towards the bayou. The road itself is used as part of the route for the annual Chevron Houston Marathon.[12] There are several rest area exits along the north side of the parkway which provide motorists with access to the park. Concerts are also held on the south side of the bayou, next to Allen Parkway, including the official City of Houston Fourth of July fireworks celebration and concert[13][14]. Also, the annual Houston Art Car Parade is located on the eastern half of Allen Parkway.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b Historic Photos of the Houston Area, Erik Slotboom.
  2. ^ Ch. 3-Downtown Freeways. Houston Freeways Erik Slotboom.
  3. ^ Allen Parkway and I-45 Interchange. Google Maps. Last accessed September 29, 2006.
  4. ^ MOVE IT!(traffic column). Lucas Wall, Houston Chronicle.
  5. ^ MOVE IT!(traffic column). Rad Sallee, Houston Chronicle.
  6. ^ Trestle over Buffalo drive
  7. ^ 24 Hour Saturation Counts. H-GAC Transportation Department.'
  8. ^ 20 A closer view of a 3-way intersection located at Allen Parkway and Sanford Street (sic). "The RAIN of Terror", June 2001, Global Alliance for Disaster Reduction, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  9. ^ 16 Houston's Channel 11 - KHOU - Television Studio. "The RAIN of Terror", June 2001, Global Alliance for Disaster Reduction, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  10. ^ Adath Yeshurun Cemetery, USGS Houston Heights (TX) Topo Map. Last accessed July 5, 2008.
  11. ^ USGS 08074000 Buffalo Bayou at Houston, TX. USGS, Last accessed September 23, 2006.
  12. ^ Chevron Houston Marathon, Aramco Half Marathon.
  13. ^ Buffalo Bayou: Parks. Buffalo Bayou Partnership.
  14. ^ Chevy's Freedom Over Texas with Fireworks Presented by Shell: Houston's Official July 4th Celebration. City of Houston, Official Site for Houston.
  15. ^ 2005 Everyone's Art Car Parade (map)


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