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New sonar images show underwater damage to I-10 bridge; will not reopen til early 2020

A portion of the bridge has been closed since September when multiple pillars were struck by loose barges.

HOUSTON — The Texas Department of Transportation has released to the public the first sonar scan images of the damaged I-10 East bridge at the San Jacinto River.

The sonar scans show at least two of the heavily damaged support columns leaning both above and below water. Above water the concrete is cracked, exposing rebar.

Credit: TxDOT
Sonar images show what the I-10 bridge damage looks like underwater

That side of the bridge is entirely closed to traffic for the time being as inspections and repairs are made. All traffic, heading both eastbound and westbound, are sharing the same portion of the bridge that was not damaged.

RELATED: I-10 East to remain partially closed east of Houston until sometime in early 2020

RELATED: What will it take for Texas to get federal money to recover from Imelda?

Truck drivers who travel the route every week have noticed drivers being more aggressive because of the slower traffic at the detour points.

”If you just stay in line, stay in your lane, it’ll go a lot better. Everyone wants to be first though," said Kennedy, a trucker who said he has been driving the I-10 route for 24 years. "I tried to find a way around, but you can’t go across water.”

TxDOT wrote in a tweet that crews are working on permanent repairs to the bridge.

“Just be patient. Just be patient. It’s going to get over soon and then you’ll realize it really wasn’t all that bad," said Kennedy.

The reduction from eight total lanes to four has caused extensive delays during the morning and evening rush hour. On Thursday, TxDOT announced the repairs would not be done until sometime in the first quarter of 2020.

The columns were damaged in September when multiple barges broke loose and hit the bridge. The incident occurred as the Houston area was flooded by remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda.

RELATED: Houston orders builders to stop discharges into storm sewer after Imelda flooding