Texas Department of Transportation: Bridge strikes costing taxpayers money

WEST TEXAS (KWES) - Big trucks striking overpasses are becoming a problem in the Permian Basin.

Texas Department of Transportation says that about 100 bridges have been struck in the last seven years.

Recently, with the oil boom, more trucks are on our roadways.

Within the last 3 months, 14 bridge strikes have happened in the Odessa District, which covers Ector and Midland and surrounding counties.

"Any time, there is an uptick in the oilfield, we seem to have more of these because people are in more of a hurry. More commercial traffic out there, all those different things go into it," said Gene Powell, Public Information Officer, Texas Department of Transportation.

Transportation companies are supposed to obtain a permit though Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, but that doesn't always happen.

It's required that trucks 14 feet tall or wider than 8 feet 6 inches, have a permit, as well as trucks that are overweight.

What is causing the problem is some of the drivers are unlicensed or simply do not have a permit.

"People just not getting a permit and not caring. Simply not caring about their load or loading wrong to where it's sticking higher than they thought," said Powell.

These bridges are also costing taxpayer money.

The cost to repair a bridge starts at $300,000 and up to millions of dollars.

James Beauchamp, President of Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance, said if the driver is not found or the safety bond of the transportation company can't cover the full cost, it's tax payer dollars that are spent.

"That's the real problem that we have today is that it takes money away from other places where the money could be better spent," said Beauchamp.

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