A new crash dashboard reveals 177 people died on roadways in Corpus Christi between 2017 and 2021. The Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization hopes to change these statistics.
A special investigative report by KRIS 6 News, Facing Danger, told the stories of five who died on the Harbor Bridge over the last seven years, killed by wrong-way drivers who entered via exit ramps.
KRIS 6 News has promised action, and that took investigative reporter Bryan Hofmann to a monthly meeting of the MPO to speak with one local official about what will be done to stop wrong-way drivers on the Harbor Bridge.
The city or TxDOT, they can act, they don't have to wait for a plan, they can act immediately, and so if someone sees something that can be done they can address it as fast as they can. You can just look at our dashboard, five years of data. It's not pretty. There's a lot of fatalities, a lot of death and pain and suffering, and we're trying to address it long term but there are immediate things that people can do and we hope they do them.
The MPO collects comprehensive data, including data on crashes. It also develops plans off the data it collects and works with governmental officials, such as leaders at the City of Corpus Christi and the Texas Department of Transportation, to develop long-range plans.
While Robert MacDonald, Director of the Corpus Christi MPO, said he could not address plans TxDOT may have for the Harbor Bridge, the MPO is about solutions.
Solutions it is already working on.
In late January, the organization launched a Crash Data Dashboard, which includes crash data from 2017-2021 from Aransas, Nueces, and San Patricio counties.
According to the dashboard, during this five-year span, there have been 40.6 thousand crashes, with 177 fatalities and 706 serious injuries in Corpus Christi.
MacDonald said the MPO is utilizing this data to complete two regional studies that will focus on safety on local roadways.
"Our two regional studies are going to look at what's our safety plan, what do we do to improve whatever the issue is and whether it's the Harbor Bridge, SPID, out on the island, in a school zone, where ever it is, we're going to look at it and we're going to do the analysis and share that analysis with the local government that can bring the changes to it," he said.
In looking at the data, he says a majority of fatal accidents occur on South Padre Island Drive, but there are also pockets of fatalities on other roadways that they will investigate.
"Each fatality is too many," MacDonald said.
The plan, which the MPO is asking for public input on, will take six months to a year to complete. But, MacDonald said if officials are aware of a problem they don't need to wait for the plan to make changes.
"The city or TxDOT, they can act, they don't have to wait for a plan, they can act immediately, and so if someone sees something that can be done they can address it as fast as they can," he said. "You can just look at our dashboard, five years of data. It's not pretty. There's a lot of fatalities, a lot of death and pain and suffering, and we're trying to address it long term but there are immediate things that people can do and we hope they do them."
KRIS 6 News asked TxDOT a series of questions about safety related to Harbor Bridge exit ramps, any ongoing plans to make these exits safer, and any action taken by TxDOT following fatalities in 2015, 2020, and 2022. We also requested an interview with TxDOT executive director Marc Williams.
TxDOT has not responded to any of the questions posed by KRIS 6 News, or our request for an interview with Williams, by the deadline given.