Why do 18-wheelers keep crashing into the Houston Ave. bridge on the Katy Freeway?

Rosie Nguyen Image
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Houston Ave. bridge hit by big rig hauling large items causes backups
It happened again. Katy Freeway inbound was backed up for miles after a big rig with a tall load hit a bridge that has caused trouble multiple times in the past.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Authorities say a truck was hauling large items when it hit a Houston bridge Tuesday afternoon, causing backups for miles along multiple Katy Freeway inbound lanes.

The incident was reported at about 12:20 p.m. when the big rig struck the Houston Avenue bridge, according to preliminary information from the Houston Police Department.

HPD said large items fell off the truck, but no injuries were reported.

At least three inbound lanes of the Katy Freeway were blocked due to the incident but have since reopened as of 4:30 p.m.

ABC13 found this is just one of many incidents involving the busy bridge.

In September 2021, the Katy Freeway closed at Houston Avenue because another truck hit the bridge.

Last April, a semi-truck lost its load after crashing into Houston Avenue Bridge at I-10, leading to several freeway lanes being blocked for hours.

Then, in August of this year, two loose spools were removed from the inbound Katy Freeway near the Houston Avenue bridge.

Why does this keep happening?

Danny Perez, with the Texas Department of Transportation, explained that these incidents are typically the fault of truck drivers who must pay attention or follow instructions.

The spokesperson said it is usually one of three scenarios:

  • The driver is not following the preferred routes designated by TxDOT when they apply for a permit with the Texas DMV.
  • The truck ends up being taller than what's allowed with the permit.
  • The truck is driving rogue without a permit.

These drivers may be cited and have their trucks put out of service by law enforcement. TxDOT typically tries to recoup the costs to repair the bridge by going after the trucking company or filing an insurance claim since this is taxpayer money.

In the meantime, to help mitigate this issue, Perez said there are detection sites and message boards alerting truck drivers that their load is too tall and instructing them to exit immediately. These are located outside the Loop on the east and west sides of inbound I-10.

TxDOT knows this is a problem spot that needs upgrades and improvements. ABC13 asked when Houstonians will see the bridge replaced now that the North Houston Highway Improvement Project has been resumed. ABC13 was told it will take at least five years before this is done, as that portion of the project is scheduled to begin in 2027.

SEE MORE: Controversial $9B project to widen I-45 is set to start, TxDOT says

Perez said this is because they are hoping to put a contract in to work on multiple bridges of similar heights at the same time, to avoid shifting the issue from the Houston Avenue bridge to a different one.

WATCH: How the closure unfolded on the ABC13 Streaming Channel

ABC13 Special Report: The Houston Avenue bridge was hit once again Tuesday by a big rig, leading to three inbound lanes of the Katy Freeway being blocked.

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