Texans continue to clean up the destruction Hurricane Harvey left as it ravaged the Coastal Bend and Houston area. That clean up includes thousands of staff members with the Texas Department of Transportation. The agency dispatched about 3,600 employees and 2,500 pieces of equipment to areas affected by Harvey, an official said.
“Harvey was a storm that was really beyond anything that TxDOT has taken on ever, in terms of its size and extent,” deputy executive director Marc Williams said, citing the Texas-sized response to the storm.
“To bring in people from as far away as El Paso, and Childress, and Amarillo, and Lubbock, to help and to be down here for a week or more at a time, helping their partner-agency personnel in these coastal districts to restore their transportation network,” Williams said.
Crews from “practically every single district” of all 25 in Texas, worked to restore traffic signals, to replace signs along roadways, and repair portions of Texas roads damaged in the storm.
“It’s a lot of sign repair, clearing debris off of the road, we’ve had some large overhead signs that were knocked down, we had some of our own facilities that were completely destroyed,” Williams explained. “We’ve had a maintenance barn that was completely destroyed in Rockport, some of our ferries sustained damages and the buildings associated with those ferries, particularly in Port Aransas.”
Williams said TxDOT has performed more than 700 bridge inspections as well, with more scheduled.
“We’ve had bridges inundated, we’ve had highways inundated, once those waters have receded, we go in and do assessments of our bridges and roads,” he said.
“Texas has got about 50 percent more bridges than any other state in the United States,” Williams added.
“We’ve got over 60,000 bridges, but in addition to that, in terms of our condition of our bridges, we are about the second best state in the whole United States…”
He did not have an estimated cost for Harvey-related work, but said projects in regions outside the storm-affected areas should not be delayed.
“There will be some localized delays that are to be expected, but state-wide, we are a large state agency and we are fortunate to have the capabilities and the men and women that work for the department,” he stated.
“And yes, there is some back-filling that has to go on but that occurs with any type of an event,” Williams mentioned.
Williams said about 90 percent of roadways that were closed because of the storm, are back open.
“We are going to get those roads reopened as quickly as possible,” he said, adding that TxDOT appreciates “the patience of the motorists.”
“We understand that sitting in traffic is no fun,” he said.
There was no timeline immediately available for when the roadwork related to Harvey would be completed.