Aging bridge considered safety hazard by some

September 28, 2012 4:34:08 PM PDT
The weight limit has been lowered again on a bridge with a history of problems. Now some are wondering why the state doesn't just shut it down. It's a primary thoroughfare to the Heights, but many drivers may want to find another route.

Citing safety issues, TxDOT has lowered the weight limit on the Yale Street bridge, making it barely legal for even an SUV to cross. This is a bridge well past its prime.

"First and foremost it was built in 1936," said HPD Sgt. Teresa Curry.

For the past year, Houston police truck enforcement Sgt. Curry and her team have tried to keep large 18-wheelers off the Yale Street bridge because of an 8,000 pound per axle weight limit.

She said, "They truly are past their point of longevity and it's an inherent danger to anyone, really."

But this week, another major change -- city and TxDOT engineers lowered the weight limited dramatically, to just 3,000 pounds per axle, meaning many full size SUVs and non-commercial trucks are technically over the limit.

You can check the weight of your vehicle in the sticker inside the driver's door. A Ford F-150, for example, has a front weight of 3,400, and back axle weight of 3,800, meaning the standard truck would be over the limit.

"I'm not the engineer, I'm not TxDOT," Sgt. Curry said. "I'm not in charge of how the city regulates their roads, but that would be my suggestion. ? I would suggest they close it."

The city maintains the bridge is safe for the 10,000 vehicles that use it daily.

Janice Evans with the city of Houston said, "This road is heavily used by passenger vehicles and to shut it down completely would create a major traffic bottleneck on Heights Boulevard.'

The bridge is scheduled to be completely replaced by 2016, and the city has promised some immediate repairs soon. But Heights activists say, they just don't think that's going far enough.

"This particular bridge either needs to be monitored with people here at all times, or it needs to be closed," said Heights activist Jeff Jackson.

The Houston Police Department says it will monitor the bridge to the best of its ability, but it must focus on the 18-wheelers and other large trucks.


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