CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Wednesday, in an exclusive interview with KRIS 6 News anchor Pat Simon, Governor Greg Abbott sent a strong message that “action has to be taken” in regard to the easy access to the southbound exits on the Harbor Bridge.
6 Investigates begandigging into wrong-way accidents on the Harbor Bridge and US 181 following the deaths of Mathew Banda and Betsy Mandujano in November of 2022.
That investigation revealed some southbound Harbor Bridge exits contribute to these dangerous, deadly wrong-way accidents. Abbott said the situation is "extraordinarily dangerous and the danger is not acceptable."
Eight people have died from wrong-way accidents on that stretch of roadway, between 2015 and 2022, and others have narrowly avoided a collision.
The Portland Police Department said it responds to ten calls a year of wrong-way drivers coming over the Harbor Bridge.
Abbott said he received information from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) about what that state agency is doing to address these issues.
TxDOT installed wrong-way signs containing inserted flashing lights at some of the exits just a day before the release of part one of Facing Danger.
On Feb. 10, 6 Investigates sent a list of questions to TxDOT about the fatalities on the Harbor Bridge caused by wrong-way drivers dating back to 2015 and any proposed fixes by TxDOT.
TxDOT did not respond to our questions by the time part one aired on Feb. 15. On February 22, TxDOT answered. But, rather than answering the questionsthe state agency provided a statement and said all questions were addressed.
"While they (TxDOT) are making an effort to try to do something about it, I consider that effort to be 'inadequate.' And I expect greater urgency and greater effectiveness of the solutions they are providing."
State lawmakers are now getting involved, saying this is a safety issue that must be addressed now.
Abbott said that his full support is behind the South Texas state legislative delegation in searching for real solutions during the current legislative session.
"So either TxDOT works with, let's say, Texas Department of Public Safety to implement safety measures, also working with the City of Corpus Christi, or we come up with some legislation that addresses it," Abbott said.
Abbott's final words echo the sentiments of some public officials and that of the Portland Police Chief and San Patricio County Sheriff who have asked for immediate action.