IH-10 Houston to Florida

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

edjunior

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
2,884
Location
Roman Forest, TX.
I just wanted to update everyone on my recent trip across I-10 from Houston to Florida.  This was a non-camper trip.  But the road conditions are the subject here.  First off, hats off to Florida.  They have some of the most beautiful highways I've seen in a while.  Very clean and very well maintained.

So, from Houston, the I-10 to the Louisiana border is pretty rough.  Not bone-jarring necessarily, but they need help.  They are getting it (i.e., lots of construction, especially between about Beaumont and the border).  Both sides.  Pack your patience and drive nice.

Border of Louisiana pretty much to at least Lafyette is also pretty beat up.  Again, lots of construction here and there.  Some really rough patches, but no broken teeth.

Somewhere after Lafyette, things smoothed out, and it was a wonderful drive the rest of the way until we got off at I-75.  Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have done wonders.  BUT...Hurricane Michael did some major destruction in Florida.  Not to the highway, other than tree debris, but oh my at the loss of trees.  And it was a little eerie as we passed Pensacola, and got to where the hurricane started it's path of destruction.  When we first noticed trees down, they were all pointing to the southeast.  As we went further east, eventually the trees were a mix of lying south, southeast, then southwest.  Then as we went past where the eye went overland, the trees were all lying point to the southwest.  It was really something to see.  The destruction there reminded me of the loss of trees when we had the big fires here in Texas a few years back.  We are still recovering from that.  I know Florida will be recovering for years.

Anyway, I thought I would pass on my experience.  I hope someone has some use for it.
 
Oh, and I forgot to say...

I want to commend ALL the states I went through EXCEPT Louisiana for their rest areas.  Well, Alabama sorta doesn't count as you were through there before you could burp.  But Louisiana...what's up with the no rest area?  None.  At all.  C'mon...people gotta pee!!
 
edjunior said:
Oh, and I forgot to say...

I want to commend ALL the states I went through EXCEPT Louisiana for their rest areas.  Well, Alabama sorta doesn't count as you were through there before you could burp.  But Louisiana...what's up with the no rest area?  None.  At all.  C'mon...people gotta pee!!

They want you to stop and buy something. We always plan to stop at Pat's in Henderson. Not easy to get in and out with a Toad, but worth the trouble if you dare.
 
I've driven that route (Orlando - Austin and back) at least twice a year since 2010. My last trip was in October.
The difference between towing a trailer and driving a car (which I've done twice) is significant. Towing reveals a lot of imperfections that a car's suspension absorbs.
I pretty much agree with all of your assessment save West-Central Louisiana.
A lot of the road from Houston to the LA border has been rebuilt since I started traveling it, and some stretches are pretty good, but others feel like they need to be rebuilt again already.
I've seen the road from the Texas border to Lafayette improve greatly in recent years, but the 13 miles between Lafayette and the Atchafalaya causeway is some of the most bone-jarring Interstate highway I've experienced anywhere in the country. Mostly it's due to the joints between the concrete slabs slipping out of vertical alignment. Louisiana has finally begun working on it over the past year, but there hadn't been enough progress yet to make a difference when I last came through.
The I-210 Lake Charles bypass is also pretty bad except right near the casinos (Gee, who'da thunk THAT?), as is the I-10 stretch from the I-210 intersection at Sulphur to the lake.
The terrain all the way from Houston to Baton Rouge is one big swamp, so in the civil engineers' defense, I imagine that it's really tough real estate to lay a stable road surface over.
In Baton Rouge, I-10 from the river to I-12 is a disaster.
I completely agree about Louisiana's aversion to rest areas.
Florida roads are certainly the best, but they should be. When you have nothing but sand to sculpt when preparing a base, no freeze-thaw cycle, and except for the occasional sinkhole a stable limestone bedrock under all that sand, you'd better be able to build and maintain a nice road surface.

LarsMac said:
We always plan to stop at Pat's in Henderson.worth the trouble if you dare.
I'll put that on my list for a future trip. I usually stock the freezer with boudin from The Best Stop in Scott.
 
As a native of SW Louisiana, I can fill in a few blanks here.  First on the point of rest areas, for at least the last 35 years, the state government has used the closure of roadside rest areas as their first stop on cutting the budget every time a financial crisis would develop, at first these would be short temporary closures, but over the years the lack of money in the state budget turned into permanent closure and demolishing of many of the rest areas on the interstates.  This same attitude has plagued all publicly funded recreation in the state (well other than college football, as the highest paid state employee is the LSU head coach), such as many state parks that have not been updated in decades.

On the topic of I-10 through SW Louisiana it is a mess, the population of SW Louisiana (particularly the Lake Charles area), has grown tremendously over the last 20 years which has added to local traffic issues, the I-10 bridge in Lake Charles is one of the oldest in all of the interstate highway system dating back to 1949 when it was the Hwy 90 bridge.  Talk of replacement is in the works (and has been for 20 years), but is hampered by routing and logistical concerns, as the area on the west side of the bridge has petro-chemical contamination and there are concerns that new bridge pilings would result in ground water contamination.

We locals are frustrated with the mess too, here is a write up on the I-10 bridge http://gator995.com/whos-lying-about-a-new-calcasieu-river-bridge/

The I-210 bypass is a bit better, the bridge is not as steep or narrow though not exactly modern as it dates from the 1970's, though a major redecking project is scheduled to start on I-210 very soon, so then we will have the I-10 bridge mess, as well as I-210 mess going on for at least the next couple of years.
 
Isaac,
Thanks for the additional info.
I hadn't known about the I-10 bridge/groundwater issues, but it certainly makes sense.
After reading the article you linked to, I will in the future always choose I-210 over the I-10 Bridge.
Certainly a tough situation all around.
 
Good info-- thanks for posting.

We plan some travel in that area this winter where we'd be going West from New Orleans towards Houston then up to Dallas. As we'll be in no particular hurry the thought was that we'd stick closer to the coast along 82 up to Port Arthur. Would be interested to hear if anyone knows what to expect were we to take that route?


edjunior said:
I just wanted to update everyone on my recent trip across I-10 from Houston to Florida.  This was a non-camper trip.  But the road conditions are the subject here.  First off, hats off to Florida.  They have some of the most beautiful highways I've seen in a while.  Very clean and very well maintained.

So, from Houston, the I-10 to the Louisiana border is pretty rough.  Not bone-jarring necessarily, but they need help.  They are getting it (i.e., lots of construction, especially between about Beaumont and the border).  Both sides.  Pack your patience and drive nice.

Border of Louisiana pretty much to at least Lafyette is also pretty beat up.  Again, lots of construction here and there.  Some really rough patches, but no broken teeth.

Somewhere after Lafyette, things smoothed out, and it was a wonderful drive the rest of the way until we got off at I-75.  Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have done wonders.  BUT...Hurricane Michael did some major destruction in Florida.  Not to the highway, other than tree debris, but oh my at the loss of trees.  And it was a little eerie as we passed Pensacola, and got to where the hurricane started it's path of destruction.  When we first noticed trees down, they were all pointing to the southeast.  As we went further east, eventually the trees were a mix of lying south, southeast, then southwest.  Then as we went past where the eye went overland, the trees were all lying point to the southwest.  It was really something to see.  The destruction there reminded me of the loss of trees when we had the big fires here in Texas a few years back.  We are still recovering from that.  I know Florida will be recovering for years.

Anyway, I thought I would pass on my experience.  I hope someone has some use for it.
 
I have not driven 82 along the coast in a few years, though I did drive a section of it south of Abbeville down to the intersection of LA Hwy 35 about 18 months ago and it was very rough around the town of Esther (shook the mounting screws out of my headlight bezel), though it may get better farther west.  LA Hwy 14 (the next east /west highway to the north) is much the same in this area, a mix of rough narrow sections inter-spliced with fresh new wider pavement.  Be aware there is a small ferry crossing at the Calcasieu river on 82 / 27, and you should confirm the ferry is operating before taking this route http://wwwapps.dotd.la.gov/operations/ferrystatus/fmbs_status.aspx?PID=F_STATUS , it usually is open, though with only one boat if it is down for maintenance the ferry crossing can be closed for weeks.  See this recent youtube video of the ferry for the ferry crossing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fvbmT3g3sM  The ferry here has a minimal charge going one direction (I think only east to west, but I may have that backward, as I recall it is $1 per car).

Once in Texas Hwy 73 from Port Authur to Winnie will let you bypass the worst of the I-10 around Beumont, speaking of Winnie there is a decent cajun restaurant there by the name of Al T's, one of the few I can say that about outside of Louisiana.  If you want to bypass Houston I would suggest taking the road north out of Winnie (1406/365/325)  up to TX 105 then TX 105 over to Conroe all are fair to good roads though mostly 2 lanes, that I have driven in the last year (in fact I was on part of Hwy 105 last weekend in my coach).
 
Thanks Isaac.  I love it when locals come to the rescue (filling in blank spots, mostly due to my memory).  When we passed the 105 exit, we thought, "Hmmmmm, I wonder if we should have gone that way".  Well, we should have.  Traffic was backed up just a few miles further down the road, and was off and on jammed all the way to the Highlands (east of Houston).  Since I know the roads back there, I jumped off the Interstate and took the back way in.  I live just south of Conroe, so 105 would have certainly been the way to go.  Oh well...live and learn.
 
The pavement on TX105 can be a bit rough closer in towards Beaumont, at least as of 5 or 6 months ago.  So taking Hwy 90 over to Liberty then Hwy 146 up to TX105  might make for a smoother route, and only add a couple of miles.  I last drove this section of Hwy 90 last spring  on a day trip to Houston when construction on I-10 was particularly bad, as I recall Hwy 90 also had some construction, but I think most of that was west of Liberty.
 
Great info-- the kind of details you can only get from a first hand account. Thanks much! I'm going to put info in our online database for future reference.
If we do go the Ferry route (had no idea there was a ferry until you pointed it out!) I assume an RV with Toad is no problem?

Isaac-1 said:
I have not driven 82 along the coast in a few years, though I did drive a section of it south of Abbeville down to the intersection of LA Hwy 35 about 18 months ago and it was very rough around the town of Esther (shook the mounting screws out of my headlight bezel), though it may get better farther west.  LA Hwy 14 (the next east /west highway to the north) is much the same in this area, a mix of rough narrow sections inter-spliced with fresh new wider pavement.  Be aware there is a small ferry crossing at the Calcasieu river on 82 / 27, and you should confirm the ferry is operating before taking this route http://wwwapps.dotd.la.gov/operations/ferrystatus/fmbs_status.aspx?PID=F_STATUS , it usually is open, though with only one boat if it is down for maintenance the ferry crossing can be closed for weeks.  See this recent youtube video of the ferry for the ferry crossing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fvbmT3g3sM  The ferry here has a minimal charge going one direction (I think only east to west, but I may have that backward, as I recall it is $1 per car).

Once in Texas Hwy 73 from Port Authur to Winnie will let you bypass the worst of the I-10 around Beumont, speaking of Winnie there is a decent cajun restaurant there by the name of Al T's, one of the few I can say that about outside of Louisiana.  If you want to bypass Houston I would suggest taking the road north out of Winnie (1406/365/325)  up to TX 105 then TX 105 over to Conroe all are fair to good roads though mostly 2 lanes, that I have driven in the last year (in fact I was on part of Hwy 105 last weekend in my coach).
 
It should be no big issue as 18 wheelers cross on it regularly, it is a small ferry though. 

Ike

p.s. I just found their twitter status page https://twitter.com/cameron_ferry?lang=en  as you can see, they do have somewhat frequent maintenance and fog outages.  Here is a link to a blog from about 5 years ago showing a diesel pusher with a TOAD on the Cameron ferry (they also show it on the much larger ferry at Galveston, TX)  https://wheeledhorizons.blogspot.com/2013/01/louisiana-with-banjo-on-my-knee.html
 
I just wanted to update everyone on my recent trip across I-10 from Houston to Florida.  This was a non-camper trip.  But the road conditions are the subject here.  First off, hats off to Florida.  They have some of the most beautiful highways I've seen in a while.  Very clean and very well maintained.
When I moved to Florida six years ago I came from out west where toll roads are very rare. I avoided them. Then my sister and BIL came for a visit and they kept driving on the toll roads and I was amazed how smooth they are. I got a Sun Pass and use them all the time. Twice I have driven back to California and I realized that Florida has the nicest smoothest roads in the country. The smoothest roads and the worst drivers.
 
I love I-10 between Henderson and Baton Rouge.

I also agree that Florida has the best highways of any state that I've been in.

People ask me what the Autobahn in Germany is like.  I tell them to drive I-75 between Gainesville and the Turnpike, either direction, and that's it.  If you are doing 70 in that stretch, you'll get blown off the road.

Tom--Times 2 on the SunPass.  Have them on all three vehicles.
 
wackymac said:
Tom--Times 2 on the SunPass.  Have them on all three vehicles.
What I have discovered is that for me to drive north through Orlando it takes me twice as long on surface streets so using the SunPass is both smoother and faster.
 
Seilerbird said:  "The smoothest roads and the worst drivers."


Amen brother.

I've seen some old drivers in Florida doing things I've never seen before, not even here in California.
 
My theory is many of them moved to Florida from New York and the other northern cities with public transit systems and did not get their first drivers license until they were in their 60's.
 
wackymac said:
I love I-10 between Henderson and Baton Rouge.
Yes. The drive over the Atchafalaya Wildlife Refuge is one stretch I always look forward to.  The Louisiana Welcome Center midway is an interesting, beautiful place to stop.
As is the new Texas Travel Information Center at the Sabine River
 
If you want an experience take the levee road leading south out of the rest area to Butte la Rose, and follow it on around towards Henderson crossing a one lane pontoon draw-bridge, turn and coming out by the parking lot at Pat's on the Wharf restaurant in Henderson, Louisiana by the west end of the bridge.  I did this once about 25 years ago after a tanker truck have overturned and caught fire at the west end of the bridge vs turning around and going back to Baton Rouge and going around the long way on Hwy 190.  This was back before most people had cell phones, the rest area was packed with stranded people, I was over at the pay phones and had called home to see if there was any news about the traffic jam, only to find out the Lafayette TV stations were reporting a estimated 12-18 hour closure, it was then a guy waiting in line to use the pay phone, said something like, I grew up around here, follow me, which lead to a great caravan adventure through the swamp, I had no idea where I was until we popped out at Pat's on the Wharf at about sunset.  Of course back then much of the levee road was dirt, it has since at least been paved, though according to google street view the 1 lane drawbridge is still the same and has a 10 ton weight limit, and looks like it dates from the middle of the last century, and given its condition it might should be a 1 ton limit.
 

Latest posts

Members online

Forum statistics

Threads
131,894
Posts
1,386,968
Members
137,648
Latest member
Ronsrn
Back
Top Bottom