Walmart Development Compromising Yale Street Bridge Stability, Critics Say
Jeff Jackson, director of Responsible Urban Development for Houston, thinks that something apocalyptic could happen to the Yale Street Bridge, especially when construction of the controversial new Heights-area Walmart is completed.
Will Walmart make bad things worse?
In November, the Texas Department of Transportation performed a study of the circa 1931 bridge, which crosses over White Oak Bayou. (According to the City of Houston's Public Works and Engineering Department, area bridges are inspected biannually via the TxDOT Bridge Inventory, Inspection and Appraisal Program.)
Says Jackson, "When they did the analysis of the bridge -- this time with the plans knowing exactly how it was built -- it went from a 56 sufficiency rating all the way down to a seven."
On November 23, TxDOT drastically dropped the maximum weight load of the City of Houston-controlled structure from 40,000 pounds and 21,000 pounds for tandem axle vehicles to 8,000 pounds per single axle and 10,000 per tandem axle. In response, the City of Houston banned all commercial trucks and installed signage prohibiting construction travel across the low-rated bridge.
Jackson and members of his group say that more needs to be done.
"One of our big arguments is that it's not enough to put up the signage," says Jackson. "The City has admitted that they don't have the resources to enforce it." Once the feeder roads to the new Walmart are opened, Jackson says that the Depression-era bridge will experience a "double whammy."
"Bottom line is that there are only ten other open permanent bridges in Texas with a sufficiency rating of seven or less. There's no other bridge in Texas with lower sufficiency and inventory ratings and higher average daily traffic than this bridge," says Jackson. "Our group has essentially come to the conclusion that the bridge is one of the worst if not the worst in Texas. It needs to be rehabilitated or completely replaced."