Bridge-Barge Collision Snarls Traffic

During the morning of Tuesday, February 12th, a large heavily loaded barge navigating on the San Jacinto River and passing beneath the I-10 East Freeway bridge crashed into a pillar supporting the westbound lanes, causing major structural damage. TxDOT officials formally closed the westbound lanes at 4:00 pm the same day, pending repairs which will take some time even after the bids for such are processed and a contractor selected. In the meantime, all westbound lanes were closed on Tuesday, until traffic could be shifted into only two lanes, and even after that was accomplished, traffic was slowed and backed up for miles. And, sadly, this condition will persist for the foreseeable future, making east Houston just a bit more unlivable.

Not much can be done immediately for this dilemma. But, it should give us real pause to reflect upon the fact that this is not the problem so much as a symptom. This incident is but another reminder of the complications which can easily arise in heavily populated metropolitan areas where the transportation infrastructure is intricately and extensively layered. Rivers and bayous carrying commercial boat traffic, alongside railroad tracks going every which way, both topped by freeway lanes laden with ever more vehicles, are the norm in Houston and given the complexity of such a system it’s a minor miracle that severe problems don’t occur more often.

Unfortunately, when they do, all hell breaks loose and Houston’s impatient drivers rage and howl. Yet, please consider this. Over and over we elect officials at all levels of government who promise to put citizens first. But, as soon as they are sworn in, all that really matters to them is getting re-elected, paying back in favors the fat cats who put them into office and/or feeding political constituencies fueled more by greed and self-interest, hate and resentment and tunnel vision than any notions of quality of life, shared responsibility for each other or the long view. And, all the while our population grows, our infrastructure continues to age and crumble, our environment gets ever quirkier and more problematic, our debt at all levels of government grows at astronomical rates and the flames go higher, as we all dance in pointless, unfocused indignation all the more frantically and re-elect the same short-sighted idiots.

At some point, probably sooner than later, this whole mess is going to grind to a screeching halt of endless, intractable problems unless we really seriously start to rethink our core concerns, beliefs and priorities. We need to find people of concern and conscience to run for office, elect them based upon ideas and commitment and then support them as they make really hard, but good decisions to move us in the right direction. You may snort in disgust and say that’s impossible and a foolish pipe dream… and maybe it is. But, if that is really true, we can go right on doing what we’re doing. You tell me. How’s that working out for you so far? Time to get serious folks, and elect folks who are serious about helping.