The Chron has a story up about an HPD officer who was injured by a flying tire on I-45 South near monroe. The officer was writing a ticket when he was knocked into the median and suffered a dislocated knee, broken clavicle and broken right arm. Despite the fact that the officer’s injuries are not life-threatening, since it was a law enforcement officer who was injured it might lead to someone in power step and try to make a dent in the debris on Houston’s freeways.
The city or state government taking measures to cut down on the amount of debris on Houston’s freeways couldn’t come soon enough, in fact it’s coming too late. In 2001 a woman was decapitated driving on I-45 North when a piece of sheet metal that fell from an eighteen wheeler’s load became airborne and went through her windshield.
Accidents caused by debris are so common throughout the Houston area that they have spawned their own subset of personal injury law. While much of the debris throughout Houston’s freeways fall into the category random crap that blew out of the back of someone’s pick-up there is still a metric fuck ton of blown out tires.
In fact they happen so frequently that tire retread lobbyists had to issue a statement explaining that retreads are solely not to blame. Of course the problems with Houston roads are not just in what is on them, but in how they are designed.
A 2008 report showed that Houston has some of the worst designed roads in the country. The report states that Houston roads help to create a death trap for pedestrians. While the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) doesn’t go that far, even they admit in a 2006 report that Houston roads can’t handle the amount of traffic the city sees everyday.
A July1 story from KUHF cites a recently released IBM report that states that 20 percent of the Houston drivers surveyed “say that there’s been an occasion in the last three years when traffic was so bad that they’ve had to turn around and go home.” The report also states that 42 percent of Houston drivers believe that congestion has worsened in the last three years.
In April the Texas Workforce released figures estimating that the Texas labor force grew by 51,000 people to 11.2 Million and, according to state legislators, it isn’t slowing anytime soon. This means that the population will continue to grow and we will still be using outdated infrastucture that is covered in debris and is so poorly designed that it leads to the deaths of the people who use it.
Perhaps the powers that be in City Hall and Austin will begin to realize that transportation, and transportation funding, has to be the top priority in the upcoming budget cycles.