Heights Wal-Mart traffic may threaten bridge integrity

May 14, 2011 4:14:16 PM PDT
People in The Heights want an 80-year-old bridge repaired, especially with the potential for heavy traffic moving in with new construction. The Yale Street Bridge over White Oak Bayou surrounds a proposed Wal-Mart store. Heights residents gathered Saturday to voice their concerns.

"We're really disappointed in our city officials at this point," said Viula Torgerson with the Responsible Urban Development for Houston organization.

Torgerson and her neighbors are protesting to call attention to the bridge, which is just south of Interstate 10.

They say it's only designed to hold 40,000 pounds -- not built to withstand the weight of 18 wheelers, school buses and heavy construction trucks all passing at the same time.

"You put two or three full 18 wheelers on here and this bridge is going down, and someone's going to die," Heights resident Graeme Mardon said.

With a new Wal-Mart being built around the corner and the chance of additional development, these residents are demanding the bridge be fixed before any groundbreakings.

"Once they start this development, it'll be harder and harder to stop," ------------ said.

In addition, the city is adding a nearby stop light, which residents say will create more idling on the already shoddy bridge.

"There's going to be a massive increase of traffic, in particular 18 wheelers," ---- said.

Trucks could be redirected through neighborhood streets -- including Heights Blvd. -- instead of Yale. This is an idea cyclists are putting the brakes on.

"I just want it safe," Cheryl Hensley said.

The proposed Wal-Mart has been a magnet for controversy even before the bridge concerns. Some neighbors feel the store would bring unwanted traffic and hurt the quality of life in The Heights, but supporters say Wal-Mart will bring jobs.

The developer has already bought more land around the proposed Wal-Mart to build other stores.

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