Have you ever noticed the massive concrete posts that support Texas bridges? From an engineering point of view, the posts are impressive. They support tons of weight and stand up to intense conditions.
From a safety point perspective, however, the posts are accidents just waiting to happen.
The huge concrete posts sit directly next to the highway, with nothing to pad them or block cars from hitting them. TxDOT might as well construct a big brick wall along the side of the highway and demand cars stay on course.
Running into an unprotected concrete posts is literally like running into a brick wall. The driver has little chance when she hits a post that is designed specifically not to give, flex or crack, because its purpose is to support tons of weight.
Some posts sit a mere five feet from the edge of the highway! Think about how close that is. If you were to lay down with your head abutting the post, your feet would stick out into the highway.
There isn’t even a guardrail to help catch and deflect vehicles that swerve off course.
Several people have died when they lost control of their vehicles and slammed into these unprotected bridge posts. Recently, a man had a heart attack that he might have survived had his car hit a guardrail or a padded barrier instead of a concrete bridge post on Spur 482/ Texas Highway 183 in Irving.
Other fatal accidents include a man who skidded on a wet road into the same Spur 482 post. Two drunk drivers and another person were also killed after hitting the post in three separate crashes.
And this is just one of the unprotected bridge posts. Other dangerous bridge posts dot Fort Worth, Dallas, Irving, Balch Springs, Forney and Kaufman.
See the graphics from NBCDFW Channel 5 above.
This problem is so simple and so inexpensive to correct that it’s mind boggling that nothing has been done.
First, protective padding could be installed almost overnight. At least drivers would stand a chance upon striking a bridge posts if special material absorbed some of the force of impact.
Second, TxDot guidelines call for guardrails to block and deflect out-of-control vehicles from hitting the concrete posts. The state traffic agency recommends guardrails if a bridge post is less than 30 feet from the highway’s edge or less than 16 feet from the freeway ramp’s edge.
Why is TxDOT ignoring its own guidelines?
In the long term, Texas needs to better design future bridges and ramps with safety of drivers in mind. With the incredible amount of road construction occurring throughout North Texas, drivers deserve to have the latest safety measures be part of the construction process.
Bridge and sign posts should never be five feet from the highway! And, barriers should be installed at the time the bridge is constructed.
Berenson Injury Law has handled cases against cities and the state when road safety is at issue. These claims boil down to whether the agencies follow accepted legal and engineering protocol in designing and constructing our roads. The TxDOT has a duty to keep us safe and to not produce frightening conditions such as unprotected bridge posts.