It’s no secret that Hwy 173 between Devine and Hondo is in need of a big rehab. There are big holes, small holes, and more popping up every day it seems. We see TxDot crews out there practically every day doing the best they can by putting temporary patches over the failing highway. While local are trying to do the best they can with what they have, it appears that emergency funding would be needed to if it’s going to get fixed anytime soon.
The 20-mile stretch with 70 MPH traffic has dozens of holes in the road where the asphalt just seems to have caved in….Some holes are bigger than others, but any of them are scary to hit at 70 MPH, with pieces of asphalt often flying up and hitting vehicles as you pass by the holes.
With several quarries north of Hondo, on top of all of the other Eagle Ford Shale oilfield traffic, the amount of heavy truck traffic in our area has absolutely skyrocketed in recent years.
“It’s been bad for a long time, but it’s really gotten so much worse in the past few months,” said homeowner Henry Schmidt who has been watching TxDot crews patching the same big holes on Hwy 173 near his property, over and over again.
“TxDot has been fixing the same holes out in front my house along Hwy 173 about every other week for several months now,” Schmidt said. “They send crews out here and it looks good for about 15 minutes but as soon as a few big trucks roll over it, it’s all torn up again.
Schmidt adds, “The patching is constant these past 3-4 months, and I know it’s really all the local crews can do without the funding. It’s not their fault, it’s whoever controls the funds to fix this. I have actually seen cars lose hub caps because the hit one of the holes on Hwy 173 so hard….It just knocked it right off, and that’s ridiculous. If somebody on a motorcycle hits one of those holes like that they better start praying cause they are going to be killed or get hurt really bad.”
“Every time somebody drives over a hole it throws rocks. Those chunks of asphalt will go through your windshield in nothing-flat. In fact there pieces of asphalt lying all over my property that have flown out of the holes about 50 feet from Hwy 173 to my property. You know, I think it would be cheaper for taxpayers if they could just get the funding they need to fix the whole road the right way. They even had crews out there patching holes last Sunday. There’s about 10 people out there right now and they don’t work for free. It’s scary. It’s pitiful. It’s ridiculous the way it is.”
Local Medina County Sheriff Randy Brown and Medina County Commissioner Jerry Beck echo the concerns of so many local residents about Highway 173.
Commissioner Jerry Beck comments:
“It’s like a slalom ski course driving down Highway 173 from Devine to Hondo, dodging holes. It’s very dangerous, especially at night, because you can’t even see those holes at night,” said Beck. “We have so many quarries in northern Medina County and most of what they haul is going to the Eagle Ford Shale, and they are coming straight down Hwy 173 through Devine. I counted 23 rock hauling trucks in just fifteen minutes as I drove from Biry to Hondo one day. So you can just imagine how many travel that road in a day.”
Sheriff Brown comments:
Sheriff Brown adds, “It’s really dangerous and TxDot’s patchwork is not working. I know they have a lot of roads that are falling apart at the same time, but something has got to be done here. The bags of asphalt they are pouring in those holes are getting beat out before they are gone. Those big belly dump trucks are really tearing up the roads. It’s a dangerous situation to travel from Devine to Hondo or Hondo to Devine. Many, many windshields have been broken driving down that stretch of Hwy 173. And can you imagine what’s going to happen when someone hits one of those holes on a motorcycle? This stretch of Hwy 173 is the worst highly traveled road in Medina County.”
We have submitted a public information request to ask how many Oversized Truck Permits have been issued in Medina County, which could take up to 10 days to be answered. According to our research a loaded 18 wheeler can weigh 80,000+ pounds, and oversized trucks that have permits to drive on roads like this can weigh100,000+ pounds. By comparison, a small passenger vehicle weighs between 4,000-5,000 pounds.
Responses from state leaders:
State Representative Andrew Murr was the first to respond to our inquires, commenting, “Thank you for highlighting this important issue. Please note that my office has contacted The Texas Department of Transportation to discuss the current status of Highway 173 and emergency maintenance and long-term rehabilitation that is required. The safety and well-being of all drivers, including our own families, remains one of utmost priority to us all.”
Senator Pete Flores stated, “Preserving Texas roads is a top priority for myself and the Texas Legislature. In Senate District 19 alone, we have thousands of miles of state highways and interstates. I trust TxDOT to address specific cases like the one here on Highway 173 and make the necessary fixes to keep the drivers of Texas safe. I ask all constituents to reach out to my office for any more concerns.”
According to one of his assistants, emergency funding for a project like this would most likely have to come through Senate Finance Committee — of which Sen. Flores is a member.
We did reach out to Congressman Will Hurd and have not received a response about Hwy 173 in Medina County.
We reached out to TxDot to ask what the projected cost of these repairs would be, and several other questions and their response is as follows:
Laura Lopez, PIO officer for TxDot stated, “TxDOT is planning to start a study on the entire SH 173 corridor from US 90 to I-35 that will look at a Prioritization plan to address the pavement needs, shoulder widening, passing lanes, any needed left turn lanes and right turn lanes, and bridge widening. After the needs and priorities of the corridor are identified, we will generate cost estimates for the potential improvements. TxDOT will then identify the applicable funds to address these needs in the upcoming years as the detailed design is performed and the environmental studies are conducted. In the meantime our crews are working daily to address the pavement failures on SH 173 between Hondo and Devine. We will be sending an additional crew from a neighboring maintenance section for support.”
To Voice your concerns see contact info below….
Reach out to your elected officials to express your concern and the need for the rehab of Hwy 173 between Devine and Hondo:
Texas State Representative Andrew Murr can be contacted at (512) 463-0536 or (830) 257-0432 or you can mail a letter to Andrew S. Murr, PO Box 2910, Austin, Texas 78768-2910 or email him at District53.Murr@house.texas.gov.
Texas State Senator for District 19 is Senator Pete Flores (512) 463-0119 or by email: email@example.com or by mail at The Honorable Pete Flores, P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711.
US Congressman Will Hurd (210) 784-5023.