Transportation

Houstonians Appeal For Help With Crumbling Streets

People in a Houston neighborhood complain that potholes and cracks are making it dangerous to drive. See the photos of the crumbling roads.

 

 

We all know how bad the roads are across Greater Houston. But some residents in a neighborhood just outside of the 610 Loop say their streets are falling apart — literally.

City Councilman Dwight Boykins took us out to the middle of Martin Luther King Boulevard, just south of Sims Bayou, to show us the problem up close.

“This is what I consider one of the worst parts of my district in terms of streets on a major thoroughfare because it’s very dangerous,” said Boykins, council member for District D.

How dangerous? Boykins shows us a jagged section of roadway where the pavement has sunk several inches.

“You can basically fall off that six-inch, I’m going to call it a cliff, and hit this light pole if you’re not paying attention,” said Boykins.

Martin Luther King Boulevard is about seven miles long, and it’s a bumpy ride along most of it. Sections of pavement slope at treacherous angles. Potholes are everywhere, in all shapes and sizes.

And the problems aren’t just on MLK. Our tour also takes us down South Acres Drive, where the neighborhood starts to become more rural and subdivisions make way for barns and horse pastures.

South Acres is a battered two-lane road with deep ditches on the sides. Bernice Hill, president of the Crestmont Park Civic Association, said she tends to avoid driving on the street because of all the potholes and cracks.

“You’ve got to be really careful because you never know when you’re going to come up on one of those humps,” said Hill.

And while the neighborhood has grown over the years in both residents and businesses, many of the streets have stayed the same, with narrow lanes and big ditches. And that’s led to a lot of accidents.

Neighbor Lynn Lewis says she’s seen plenty of wrecks on nearby Martindale Road.

“A car fell off into the ditch in front of my house. We’ve seen several carriers, 18-wheeler carriers that have tried to make the turns. They have fallen in the ditches over there. 18-wheelers, you can imagine how terrible that was,” said Lewis.

Councilman Boykins estimates about 60% of the streets in his district are in need of repair. But how did they get that way? We asked Eric Dargan with the Houston Public Works Department.

“Over the past 10, 20 years we have not put the amount of money into maintenance that we possibly would have liked to have because of budget cuts over the years,” said Dargan, deputy director of Public Works.

The money that was put into maintenance went to overlays and temporary patches that deteriorated over time. Dargan said the 2011 drought also took its toll. But he’s hoping neighbors get some relief through ReBuild Houston.

That program sets aside funds for pay-as-you-go reconstruction projects on Houston’s worst streets, and that includes a $12 million project on MLK between the 610 Loop and Bellfort. It’s supposed to start this year.

But considering it can cost up to a million dollars to rebuild one mile of street, Dargan said the city has to pick and choose those projects. So in other parts of District D, residents will only see temporary fixes for the time being.

“I understand it’s not going to give them what they want as far as a new street, but it will keep that street safe until dollars become available for us to do more,” Dargan explained.

Back in District D, Councilman Boykins says he’s a big fan of ReBuild Houston, but he wishes there was a way to speed up projects that need to be done right now.

“I think we need to re-huddle, look at it after a couple of years and see what we can do to modify this thing,” Boykins said. 

And there are many needs all over Houston as the city maintains about 16,000 miles of lanes on city streets.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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