BAYTOWN – Being close to work is the reason Quizzie Honeycutt bought her Baytown home in the West Meadows subdivision. The neighborhood sits on Interstate 10 frontage road, just east of the San Jacinto River bridge.
"It was just a place where I can just jump on the freeway and get straight to work within no time,” Honeycutt said.
But in September after two barges hit the bridge during Tropical Storm Imelda caused the bridge to shut down indefinitely, Honeycutt’s commute went from 15 minutes to an hour and sometimes even longer, she said.
“I turned down a lot of desserts," said Honeycutt, who sells and delivers homemade desserts. “People lost their jobs because they couldn’t get to where they supposed to at work.”
A new lawsuit representing 243 West Meadow residents is suing the San Jacinto River Fleet LLC, the company responsible for the two barges that crashed into the bridge. The lawsuit claims the re-routes resulted in highly abnormal traffic at the entry and exit points near the West Meadow neighborhood.
The lawsuit stated all residents suffered in one way or another from the constant traffic.
West Meadows residents said they were stranded in traffic for an extended time. Drivers were rerouted to the frontage road. The closures on the bridge lasted until January.
“They should have taken precautions to prevent this,” said Pamela Scardina.
Scardina said she struggled to get her son to school on time. She said it normally took about 10 to 15 minutes but extended to at least 45 minutes with the bridge reroute.
“It was just ridiculous,” she said.
The traffic jam, however, is having a lasting impact on nearby residents.
One resident, Billy Barrett, said the heavy traffic drove many of his neighbors to leave the West Meadows neighborhood.
“A lot of people sold their houses,” he said.
Here is the full lawsuit filed by residents: