NewsLocal NewsFacing Danger

Actions

TxDOT temporarily shuts down Power Street exit on Harbor Bridge

Exit ramp closed
Posted at 3:08 PM, Mar 02, 2023

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Just one day after Governor Greg Abbott described the Texas Department of Transportation's response to wrong-way accidents on the Harbor Bridge and US 181 as "inadequate," TxDOT has temporarily shut down one exit.

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.

Abbott said he had received information from TxDOT on it's response to address accidents caused by wrong-way drivers.

"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," Abbott said.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH GOVERNOR ABBOTT:

The southbound exit off the Harbor Bridge onto Power Street was shut down Thursday afternoon by TxDOT in order to make changes to the roadway, according to a TxDOT news release.

That release came after KRIS 6 News was unsuccessful in reaching TxDOT Public Information Officer Rickey Dailey when 6 Investigates discovered the ramp has been closed.

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."

At least 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 an average of ten calls a year of wrong-way drivers coming over the Harbor Bridge.

Portland Police Chief Mark Cory told 6 Investigates he does not believe these changes will stop wrong-way drivers, but he is thankful for the closure, even if it's temporary.

"If that ramp, that exit ramp, remains accessible to the public, that’s going to continue to cause the wrong-way drivers."
Mary Cory, Portland Police Chief

"I’m all for the temporary closure, I can tell you that. So, what they determine in the future, I guess it’s based on their traffic surveys and studies and hopefully, they’ll make the right decision," Cory said. "Right now all I can tell you is I’m very pleased that that exit ramp is closed because I think, that was the main issue contributing to the wrong-way drivers."

TxDOT officials released this statement regarding Thursday's closure:

“At the direction of the governor to take additional safety measures, TxDOT has temporarily closed the Power Street exit on the Harbor Bridge while we work with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the city of Corpus Christi to implement additional solutions to deter wrong-way drivers from entering the southbound lanes of the Harbor Bridge. TxDOT is also working with DPS to add additional patrols and enforcement in the area.

“This immediate, public safety measure comes as TxDOT continues to work with the city of Corpus Christi and law enforcement to enhance safety on the south side of the bridge in order to mitigate potential wrong-way drivers. These operational improvements include steps such as reconfiguring sections of Power and Padre streets into one-way roads.”

Read TxDOT's Feb. 22 statement to 6 Investigates:

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 of the special report aired on Feb. 15On February 22, TxDOT answered. But, rather than answering the questions the state agency provided a statement and said all questions were addressed.

Go here to read the full investigative special reports, "Facing Danger"

Related Stories
Mistake from DA's Office reveals TABC report from fatal Harbor Bridge crash FACING DANGER: TxDOT to update ramps to deter wrong-way drivers DPS troopers stop 10 wrong-way drivers attempting to enter Harbor Bridge Wrong-way detection systems remain despite exit ramp closures TABC hosts meeting with Coastal Bend businesses to try to limit drunk drivers TxDOT: Padre Street back to two lanes City Council agrees with TXDOT in plans to make ramp closure permanent TxDOT plan to address wrong-way drivers over the Harbor Bridge Multi-agency task force seeks solution for wrong-way drivers TxDOT plans task force for wrong-way drivers Wrong-way driver travels nearly 17 miles before crashing car TxDOT temporarily shuts down Power Street exit on Harbor Bridge Abbott calls for action in response to wrong-way dangers on the Harbor Bridge Investigation reveals more fatalities from wrong-way drivers Corpus Christi and Portland police policies differ when pursuing suspects State lawmaker acknowledges safety problems on Harbor Bridge Exclusive: Uber driver narrowly avoids wrong-way driver on Harbor Bridge KRIS 6 News pushes for solutions to wrong-way drivers on Harbor Bridge Sister of woman killed in Harbor Bridge wrong-way accident demands action Investigation reveals 5 dead on Harbor Bridge from wrong-way drivers in 7 years Police in Portland risk their lives to stop wrong-way drivers Law enforcement share tips on how to protect yourself from wrong-way drivers Harbor Bridge wrong-way fatalities result in criminal and civil lawsuits Corpus Christi resident faced difficulty with TxDOT in changing intersection Are the ramp closures and increased enforcement working?

Hurricane Center