Houston Avenue bridge hit by truck again, load falls onto Katy Freeway

By Aaron Barker - Senior Web Editor

HOUSTON - The beleaguered Houston Avenue bridge was hit again Thursday during morning rush hour by a commercial truck.

According to Texas Department of Transportation records, this bridge has been hit at least 23 times over the last four years by trucks too tall to clear the 14.3-foot height of the bridge.

“It's the first short one,” said TXDOT’s Emily Black.

This bridge is one of the shorter bridges in town, but was within state guidelines at the time it was built. The more current standard for Texas bridges is 16.5 feet. State law mandates commercial trucks be no taller than 14 feet, but Houston gets a lot of out-of-town trucks making coast-to-coast runs along Interstate 10.

TXDOT officials said trucks heading east tend to hit the Houston Avenue bridge, while those traveling west tend to hit the Waco street bridge. Waco is slightly taller at 14.4 feet and has been hit 11 times over the last four years.

Fortunately, this morning’s accident wasn't serious, neither was a similar crash less than three weeks ago.

“There was no damage, we don’t have to do any repairs,” Black said.

As Channel 2 Investigates reported in June, TXDOT is spending an estimated $240,000 to make repairs to these bridges from strikes. The state can file against a trucker's insurance to recoup the cost -- when it knows who hit a bridge. TXDOT officials said some of the smaller accidents that cause damage go unreported. 

TXDOT recently installed warning signs near the bridges and uses light boards on east and westbound lanes to warn truckers when their rigs are too tall. 

These signs are posted near Mercury on the westbound side of I-10 and near Wirt on the eastbound side. When these devices detect a truck is too tall for upcoming bridges a warning will flash on the board and instruct the driver to take an alternate route.

TXDOT reports show the eastbound warning system has been triggered 10,245 times since the beginning of the year. The westbound side was triggered 5,199 times.

Black said these extra measures have helped, but accidents still happen.

“We are asking those truck drivers to pay attention, stay on their assigned route, make sure their permits are correct,” Black said.

TXDOT is planning to raise the height of these bridges as part of the North Houston Highway Improvement Project. However, the project is not slated to begin until 2020.

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