Truck hits Houston Ave. bridge hours before repairs set
If there’s a bright spot to yet another truck slamming into the Houston Avenue bridge along Interstate 10, at least it happened hours before scheduled repairs from the last time a truck whacked it.
A semi carrying a cargo container on a flatbed trailer hit the bridge around 10:30 a.m., forcing Texas Department of Transportation officials to close the eastbound lanes while crews worked to remove the semi and clean up debris.
“It appears the same beams we were going to replace tonight have been struck,” TxDOT spokesman Danny Perez said.
The lanes reopened at noon, about eight hours before a planned weekend closing of eastbound I-10. The closing, planned weeks ago, was meant to fix damage from a December incident during which five trucks hit the bridge following a high load displacing a steel plate.
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Now the work will also remedy anything caused by Friday’s hit, Perez said. The freeway is scheduled to reopen by 5 a.m. Monday.
Eastbound lanes will close at Shepherd, with access returning east of Houston Avenue.
Officials are encouraging anyone traveling east on I-10 to use Loop 610 to detour north and east of the closing, and rejoin I-10 by traveling southbound on Interstate 45. None of the planned work affects westbound lanes.
Friday’s incident left area drivers shaking their heads.
“I shouldn’t be surprised,” said Jeff Karem, a Heights resident who works in the central business district. “I just hope they bill the (truck) driver.”
Perez said those drivers located by authorities are questioned, and the state typically seeks reimbursement as necessary from drivers or their insurance companies.
The Houston Avenue bridge is among the lowest spanning area freeways, at 14 feet, 8 inches, according to TxDOT measurements. Plans call for it to be replaced as part of the remaking of Interstate 45 in downtown Houston.
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Though it is one of the most frequently hit, Perez said TxDOT cannot solve the issue by replacing it sooner, as that would just mean another nearby bridge would be struck instead.
“We have to address the structures further down, too,” Perez said, noting the plans for fix all the bridges as part of the I-45 redesign. “Houston Avenue isn’t the only one.”
Dug Begley writes about transportation for the Chronicle. Follow him on Twitter at @DugBegley and Facebook at @PoppedClutchCity. Send him tips at firstname.lastname@example.org