Tending to trash on Houston roads

HOUSTON The Texas Department of Transportation has nine maintenance offices around the Houston area, out of which crews operate daily to clear roadways of debris. However, the main problem, as one woman found out, is not letting it fly out of the truck in the first place.

Picking up road debris in Houston is a full-time job.

"I pick up debris every day," said Barry Thomas, a TxDOT worker.

For the last decade, Thomas has tracked down debris around the 610 Loop and its interior. He averages 80 to 110 miles a day.

It's safe to say that almost everything he tosses into the back of his truck has already bounced off someone else's vehicle.

"If they try to dodge it or miss, you know, there could be an accident," Thomas said.

Sarah Longpre had no time to dodge and there was an accident on Highway 59 as she tried to pass a dump truck with an unsafe load.

"I saw the big object on top of it start to wobble," Longpre recalled. "I thought to myself, 'Surely that is not going to fall right on me.'"

The police report shows it not only banged up her BMW, but it also took out three other bumpers with its impact.

"Pretty abrupt. Luckily the object didn't come up through my car. It kind of hit my car and bounced off to the right, but it was a sudden jolt," said Longpre.

More than $7,900 in repairs later and five weeks in the shop, her prized Beamer now shines in the driveway. However, after her road debris encounter, she's on the lookout for the next unsafe load.

"It is scary. I think we have enough problems on our freeways without that added burden," said Longpre.

In the meantime, Thomas is on the hunt to try and top one of his biggest finds on the 610 Loop.

"I get a call from the dispatcher to pick up a bed liner, a pickup truck bed liner," said Thomas.

If you spot something that looks like it's about to fall off a truck or car, you can call 311 to report it.

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