FM 529, also known as Spencer Rd., runs east/west, starting at US 290 and going all the way to the town of Bellville. The road was once a simple two-lane asphalt road until the early 1990's, when expansion had begun at the US 290 end of the road. Since the road's original construction in 1945, it has undergone several realignments. The first one was done at the point where FM 529 intersects US 290, sometime during late 1988 and early 1989. The project would abandon a small segment of the eastern end of FM 529, and move the intersection to the south about one block. The road would also be widened from two lanes to six. This abandoned segment lasted until 2013, when construction on the nearby 290 and Beltway 8 interchange took priority. The abandoned road segment became the site of a concrete mixing site, and concrete trucks used the road for access. I was fortunate enough to get some good pictures before all the trees were torn down in the area.
The second realignment was done just east of Barker Cypress Rd., where FM 529 was slightly offset. The original intersection was moved slightly north to make a smooth connection with the other side of FM 529, and eventually an HEB Grocery was constructed on the location of the old alignment, which erased any evidence of the old alignment. However, with the right eyes, you can still see by the power lines how the road originally ran straight with no curvature.
The third location of realignment was done west of Fry Rd., where there is now a big S-curve in the road heading towards Grand Parkway. Originally, FM 529 (also known as Freeman Rd in this area) had two 90 degree hairpin turns that dated back to the early 20th century. Sometime between 1945 and 1975, these hairpin turns were bypassed by a smooth section of curving road. The exact year is unknown. The bypass left behind two sections of abandoned road on the north and south side of the curve. The northern segment was erased by construction around 2006, and the southern segment was still around until 2012 when nearby construction on the Grand Parkway (SH-99) began. Towards the end of Grand Parkway's completion, FM 529 was being widened to four lanes, and construction crews removed what remained of the old pavement.
THE FIRST ABANDONMENT NEAR US 290
Old Katy Rd. was once an ordinary, two-lane asphalt road that ran east/west through West Houston, but time and progress have erased most of it from existence. The road began in the late 19th century, simply named "Katy Road", and began inside the 610 loop where Hempstead Road and Washington Avenue merged. From there, the road ran west all the way to the town of Katy. During the 20th century, Katy Rd. became the designated path for US Highway 90, the predecessor of Interstate 10. The highway was built slightly south of Katy Rd., so the two roads ran parallel to each other all the way into the Addicks area. The original two lane road was renamed "Old Katy Rd.", and remained an active side-street all the way up to the mid 2000's when the Katy Freeway expansion absorbed most of the Old Katy right-of-way.
Today, almost all of Old Katy Rd. has been erased from existence by the superwide I-10 corridor, but there are a few isolated segments that managed to stick around. The very start of Old Katy Rd. inside the loop still exists today, but it has been bisected by a railroad corridor without a crossing for cars. The east side became an access drive for a few nearby businesses, still bearing the name "Old Katy Rd.", and still showing some of the original painted striping between the lanes.
The west side of the bisection also became an access drive for a row of businesses, but the small, curved portion of Old Katy Rd. immediately to the west of the railroad was abandoned completely sometime in the late 1950's, and left for nature to reclaim. The abandoned section is behind a locked gate, and barely distinguishable as a road, but when you look across the railroad tracks, the two halves line up perfectly. This western bisection ends up merging with a newer version of Katy Rd., which later becomes the I-10 westbound frontage road.
Another surviving remnant of Old Katy Rd. is in Addicks, Tx, on the northeast corner of I-10 and State Highway 6. From the entrance to the Addicks Park & Ride to the northbound lanes of Highway 6 sits a narrow, isolated section of Old Katy Rd. This road is still used today by nearby businesses and park & ride customers, so it is somewhat maintained, but clearly has older road characteristics, such as the absence of shoulders or curbs. When you stand on this segment of Old Katy Rd., and look around at the surrounding freeway and Highway 6 overpass, it is hard to imagine a time when Old Katy Rd. was the only western road through the area. It seems almost hidden among the clusters of restaurants, hotels, and offices.
The following photos were taken in April of 2013 at various segments of Old Katy Rd.
http://webzoom.freewebs.com/theoldcopperfield/Apr 2013a 009.jpg : The Addicks portion of Old Katy Rd., facing west towards Highway 6.
http://webzoom.freewebs.com/theoldcopperfield/Apr 2013a 010.jpg : The Addicks portion, facing east. This is where the road ends now, and beyond the barricade is now covered with grass.
http://webzoom.freewebs.com/theoldcopperfield/Apr 2013a 012.jpg : Facing east beyond the barricade at the grass covered surface where some remnants of the road are still visible. In the far distance, the road had a small curve to the south that passed beneath the HOV and Metro Bus ramp. Because of the curve, the majority of Old Katy Rd. was consumed by the I-10 expansion, and this little piece, which was situated further from the I-10 construction, escaped the erasure.
http://webzoom.freewebs.com/theoldcopperfield/Apr 2013a 004.jpg : The very beginning of Old Katy Rd. inside the 610 Loop, facing west. In the old days, if you were headed to Katy from central Houston, this would be the beginning of the journey. The railroad corridor in the distance no longer has a crossing, and the road resumes on the other side of the tracks.
http://webzoom.freewebs.com/theoldcopperfield/Apr 2013a 001.jpg : This is the current ending of the first segment of the road. The railroad passes through, but there is no road for cars to cross over to the other side anymore. This has been the configuration since about the 1950's.
http://webzoom.freewebs.com/theoldcopperfield/Apr 2013a 005.jpg : This is what lies on the other side of the railroad tracks. A deserted, badly eroded piece of what used to be Old Katy Rd. After the road was severed at the railroad crossing, this side was closed off for about 60 feet or so of length, marked by a gate. On the other side of the gate, the rest of Old Katy Rd. resumed its western course, and was maintained by the city.
http://webzoom.freewebs.com/theoldcopperfield/Apr 2013a 007.jpg : This is the gate that separates the active segment of Old Katy Rd. from the deserted portion on the west side of the railroad tracks.
http://webzoom.freewebs.com/theoldcopperfield/Apr 2013a 006.jpg : Facing west along Old Katy Rd. from the gate. This small bit of road serves a few industrial type businesses, but is essentially just a back alley. In the distance, the road merges with a newer alignment of Katy Rd. that overtook this original two lane asphalt one.