TxDOT: Guardrail at fatal bus accident performed as expected

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According to preliminary review by TxDOT, the guardrail at the site of the fatal bus accident performed as expected within design expectations. TxDOT released the following statement:

HOUSTON - A preliminary review by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) indicates the roadway infrastructure at the site of a fatal school bus accident on Sept. 15 performed according to its design expectations.

Agency officials inspected the bridge on IH 610 South Loop at Telephone Road and reviewed agency documentation related to the bridge and bridge rail, its safety features, its crash-testing criteria and roadway design and maintenance specifications. The bridge was last inspected[1] in November 2014 and received a rating of satisfactory or better on all criteria. The agency and the National Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate the incident.

The inspection report shows that the bridge, which was constructed in 1970, meets current safety standards though it is not current with 2014 design standards.

Quincy Allen, P.E., TxDOT Houston District Engineer, explained, "Roadway design standards and specifications are consistently evolving and in many instances the new standards are more technically specific than previous years' standards and take into account newer technologies. When inspections are conducted, our team compares the infrastructure in place with the most recent standards and notes variances. This notation is not an evaluation or rating of structural safety."

To date, TxDOT's incident review process has included inspection of relevant documentation on the bridge, a physical inspection, and a review of current and past design standards and safety specifications relevant to the structure. TxDOT will continue its review, including the analysis of data and materials gathered from the site and system-wide comparisons. Ultimately, the review team will determine if there is a need for system modifications or upgrades that might be implemented to enhance system performance.

"Anytime a life is lost on our system, TxDOT is committed to investigating whether there are feasible opportunities to enhance how our system performs. Through this process, it has been our goal to conduct a thorough review of the factors surrounding the incident while also giving the highest level of respect and empathy for the families and communities impacted by this tragic event," said Allen.

TxDOT crews installed temporary safety repairs at the accident site and permanent repairs will be installed within the upcoming weeks.