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TxDOT fix for Harbor Bridge wrong-way fatalities not a fix for all

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Posted at 12:11 PM, Feb 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-15 14:13:08-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In November, the Texas Department of Transportation told KRIS 6 News it had plans to improve safety on the Harbor Bridge.

TxDOT is installing a wrong-way driver detection system on the bridge near the off-ramp to Concrete Street Amphitheater. The system will have a flashing red light to alert the wrong-way driver that they are traveling the wrong way.

It will also take a photo of the driver and send it to police to alert them.

In November, TxDOT officials said they were waiting for a part to come in to complete the system and they hoped it would be fully operational in six months.

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The Texas Department of Transportation is installing a wrong-way detection system on the Harbor Bridge.

In 2011, San Antonio police officer Stephanie Brown died in a fatal crash on Interstate-35 in San Antonio as a result of a head-on crash.

The driver — who was suspected to be intoxicated — was driving the wrong way.

In response to Brown's death, the San Antonio Wrong-Way Driving Task Force was formed to determine where and how often wrong-way driving occurred, as well as what safety solutions were available.

And TxDOT's San Antonio district began to invest in a wrong-way detection system, that involved dozens of LED-enhanced wrong-way signs.

It bothers me when there's ways to fix these kinds of problems, and I hear what TxDOT wants to do to fix the problem, but that's not a fix.
Oscar Rivera, San Patricio County Sheriff

In Corpus Christi, crash reports confirm five people have died over seven years, but there are no updates on when safety may be improved on the Harbor Bridge.

KRIS 6 News asked TxDOT communications specialist Ricky Dailey on Feb. 1 for an update on the wrong-way detection system proposed for the Harbor Bridge.

We wanted to know when the system would be fully operational and what other cities may have this system in place.

Dailey responded and asked what the story was about, who else we were interviewing and contacting, and would check to see what he could find out.

It's been two weeks and he has yet to provide the requested information, despite repeated follow-up requests.

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TxDOT's response when asked for an update on the wrong-way detection system.

KRIS 6 News also asked TxDOT a series of questions about safety related to these 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.

READ MORE: Sister of woman killed in wrong-way accident demands action
READ MORE: Investigation by KRIS 6 News reveals five dead in wrong-way accidents over seven years
READ MORE: Police share tips on how to protect yourself from wrong-way drivers

KRIS 6 News also spoke with local law enforcement, who also had concerns about the proposed system.

"I don't see how that's going to have any effect when you got a drunk driver that's, you know, (has) a blood alcohol concentration of .18, he was an immediate threat and you have a patrol car run alongside him with their lights on. It's going to have zero impact on getting this vehicle stopped. That's just not going to work," Portland Police Chief Mark Cory said.

San Patricio County Sheriff Oscar Rivera echoed those concerns.

"It bothers me when there's ways to fix these kinds of problems, and I hear what TxDOT wants to do to fix the problem, but that's not a fix," Rivera said.

To report issues or any complaints with roadways managed by the Texas Department of Transportation, click here.

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