Crews work to get traffic moving

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September 29, 2008 4:22:25 PM PDT
Progress is being made getting traffic moving again around Houston. Crews have been busy getting those flashing red lights back online.ROAD TO RECOVERY: How you can help | School closings | Person locator | Important phone numbers | Assistance from FEMA | Filing a claim | Latest power numbers

There was a welcome sight Monday afternoon on the corner of El Dorado and El Camino Real. After more than two weeks of flashing lights, the traffic signal was finally being fixed. It was not a moment too soon for Clear Lake resident Jackie Davis, who lives just three homes away from that intersection.

"Not fun at all," she said. "We were not happy campers."

Officials say Clear Lake was one of the hardest hit areas, as was the area around the Willowbrook Mall in northwest Houston. Broken traffic lights have brought huge traffic jams around the mall. Some drivers have grown quite tired of the extra commute time.

"About an extra 15 or 20 minutes," estimated driver Howard Smith. "You'd better make time for it, too!"

Commuter Jonida Martin said, "It makes it more dangerous. Everyone loses patience, they have places to go, so they have to hurry."

Crews have made some progress. In Houston, the city has repaired 72% of its traffic lights, with about 700 still out. In Harris County, approximately 96% of traffic signals are working. Officials say just 15 still need repair.

"There are lots of hurdles," admitted Michael Marcotte, with Houston Public Works.

Officials say the slow progression of power has slowed down their progress. Nonetheless, the city has set a new benchmark to get the work done.

"If the power is up and running at a signal, my expectation is by the end of the week we'll be in a position to have that signal running," Marcotte told Eyewitness News.

It is a tall order, but the city says they have 60 crews working out in the streets. About half of those are from out of state, and they are working long days -- about 12 hour shifts. We're told most of those crews are working seven days a week.

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