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Filling Houston’s Potholes: Thursday’s Show (January 21, 2016)

Recently, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the official launch of his pothole repair initiative. Potholes reported to 311 are to be “assessed and addressed” by the next business day. We have, on this program, explored the political and judicial battles over street maintenance in Houston. During the campaign for mayor, potholes and street repairs were […]

Recently, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the official launch of his pothole repair initiative. Potholes reported to 311 are to be “assessed and addressed” by the next business day.

We have, on this program, explored the political and judicial battles over street maintenance in Houston. During the campaign for mayor, potholes and street repairs were a routine topic of discussion. When Mayor Turner’s predecessor Annise Parker appeared on this show your fellow listeners routinely called raising concerns over potholes, street repairs, and the ReBuild Houston program.

But there are questions we haven’t had a chance to ask before – much less political, and much more practical questions — like just what are those materials that road maintenance workers use to fill potholes? How long do those patching materials last? What’s the difference in cost and time and effectiveness in patching a pothole versus rebuilding a street? How do you determine the best approach to take in addressing one pothole to the next? And is there anything special about Houston itself that leads to more potholes here than in most cities?

On this edition of Houston Matters, we discuss the nitty-gritty of pothole repairs with David Newcomb, a senior research engineer with the pavement and materials division at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute

Also this hour: We discuss a new law in Texas that requires school districts – when asked to by a parent or other individuals – to record video and audio inside classrooms that are used primarily for special education. The law will be implemented at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. Proponents think it will help prevent abuse of students who often can’t speak for themselves; others worry the mandate will be a financial burden on schools.

Then: A recent paper from Rice University argues legal barriers barring adolescents from participating in HIV and STI (sexually transmitted infections) studies should be removed. We talk with one of the authors about what those legal barriers are and why she  believes removing them would move research forward.

Plus: The theory that the brain responds positively to art is not new to science. But a researcher at the University of Houston is using a different approach to test that belief. News 88.7 arts and culture reporter Amy Bishop explains.

Houston Matters offers a free daily, downloadable podcast here, on iTunes, Stitcher and various other podcasting apps.

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