Several local residents commented on our article about the fast and dangerous deterioration of State Hwy 173 through Medina County between Devine and Hondo and straight on down the road going towards Jourdanton. Over 15,000 oversized trucks have gotten permits to drive down state highways in Medina County in 2018. It appears that a large number of them travel from the quarries in northern Medina County through Devine and onto Jourdanton en route to the Eagle Ford Shale. We realize that large trucking companies provide good jobs and economic development for our county, but we hope that state leaders will find the emergency funds needed to keep us all safe on the roads they travel, especially major thoroughfares like St. Hwy 173 which are falling apart from the inside out.
“I have to drive into the incoming traffic lane or come to a complete stop on St. Hwy 173,” said resident Christy Williamson, and that’s what many locals have said about dodging the holes.
One local family was traveling on Hwy 173 on their way to eat dinner in Pleasanton when they hit a hole so large it literally ripped off the bumper.
“We hit the hole on 173 heading towards Jourdanton at 70 MPH,” they said. “It was so deep it ripped the bumper right off of our vehicle, causing around $4,500 in damages on our vehicle! It felt like we just fell in. It was horrible. Thankfully there wasn’t another car right behind us.”
Phillip Hernandez, of Devine, is lucky to be alive after he hit a large hole as he was coming home from Hondo to Devine on his motorcycle on night.
“I hit that hole at 70 MPH and I flew up off my bike,” Hernandez said. “My body came down hard on the gas tank and I couldn’t find the foot pegs at first so my feet were just dragging on the road. My bike was swerving and leaning side to side, so I just held on to the handle bars as tight as I could and stepped on the gas and got it pulled back upright. Thank God it didn’t lay down. I just got lucky. It was a really bad hole right before you get to the Keller Park area. That happened about 6 months ago, but there are still so many holes out there. Some of those holes are so big they are as wide as the lanes are in some spots.”
Lareyna Cook drives from Hondo to Devine for work every day, and has even considered going way around to travel a safer route.
“Driving to and from work on hwy 173 is scary for me. I’m so scared that I was even thinking of driving all the way through Yancey and across to Devine just to be safe. The potholes and rocks and oncoming traffic makes me afraid to drive on that road. Also, I’m afraid I might swerve too much avoiding the potholes and might lose control of the car,” Cook stated. “I don’t understand why the state doesn’t fix the road. Are our lives and safety not worth anything to them? They keep patching it but in a few days or a week there are new holes and the old ones return. How many deaths and injuries will it take?”
We’ve also heard from several people who’s windshields were busted as asphalt flies. Steve Taichman is one of the many whose windshields have been busted by chunks of asphalt that fly up while passing over the holes. As a former first responder, Taichman said “on a scale of 1 to 10 on how dangerous this road is, I’d say it’s a 7 or 8….I was coming south and a big truck was coming north, and a piece of asphalt just flew up and hit my windshield. I got a quote for $230 to replace my windshield, but why fix it when I know it’s just going to happen again.
Lauren Haass’ vehicle is “un-driveable” after she also hit one of the many holes on Hwy 173. She has to travel to and from work in the dark.
“Last Friday, February 1, I was driving home at night, and I saw a chunk of asphalt so I moved over just a little bit to avoid it. I ended up hitting a pothole and fishtailed a little. When we looked at it the next morning you could see the tire was actually bent inward, where it rubs on the top…Mechanics said it broke the shocks and said we’ll have to fix that before they can tell us what else needs to be repaired. I drive to work in the dark and back home in the dark, and every day there is a new hole. Holes are repaired and they pop open again within 2 or 3 days. I drive 55-60 on St. Hwy 173 and hardly anyone tries to pass me….that’s how bad it is. ”
Kathy Crouch commented on our story online, stating “Someone will get killed if they don’t do something soon. Everyone is swerving to dodge the holes and there will be a head on….It will be sad if they wait for someone to get killed before they fix them.”
Reach out to Tx State Senator Pete Flores, Tx State Rep Andrew Murr, and Congressman Will Hurd to express your concern if you want to see the state find emergency funding to fix this dangerous, busy state highway.
Over 15,000 over-sized permits issued in Medina County highways last year
About 15,000 oversize/overweight permit holders selected Medina County as one of the 5 or 10 counties they wanted permission to travel in 2018. The TxDMV estimated that about half of them were issued on an annual basis while others were issued for several months at a time. The amount of permit revenues to protect against the heavy wear and tear of oversized trucks traveling our roads is not easy to track, as there are so many different options on permits.
An over axle over gross weight truck can get a permit to travel 5 counties for less than $300 per year or they can select 8 counties for a higher free, or they can select an envelope permit of $4,000 annually for indivisible weight. The possibilities are endless.
The following are the number of “time-based” (or long-term) permits issued in Medina County and Statewide. These don’t include the permits issued for one-time trips.
Time-based permits with Medina County specifically selected:
2016 – 12,714
2017 – 13,955
2018 – 15,104
Time-based permits valid for statewide travel:
2016 – 73,913
2017 – 80,844
2018 – 91,182
About these oversize/overweight permits: The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) issues oversize/overweight permits to vehicles and loads traveling on Texas’ state-maintained roadways that exceed Texas’ legal size and weight limits of 8’6” wide, 14’ high, 65’ long (truck & trailer combination), and 80,000 pounds gross weight. The dimensions and weights for which we will issue a permit are unlimited. The length of these “time-based” permits varies with about half being valid for 30, 60 or 90 day periods with the rest are valid for one year, according to Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. There are only a few of the time-based permits in which a county is specified when the permit is ordered. All other time-based permits are valid for all counties in Texas. Time-based permits do not include routes but are valid for travel on all state-maintained roadways, TxDMV does not have a record of what roadways are traveled with these permits. Oversize/overweight permits have been issued in Texas for 35 plus years. For many years that were issued in individual Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) district offices. In the late 1980’s permits became centralized under TxDOT at a headquarters office in Austin.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at The Honorable Pete Flores, P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711.
US Congressman Will Hurd (210) 784-5023.