February 12, 2007
A quick update on Old Spanish Trail

And from that same Rad Sallee column, some feedback on the sorry state of Old Spanish Trail.

Rick Beal finds fault with the "he said, she said" nature of much that appears in Move It.
"Here is your format," he wrote. "Someone writes in to complain about a situation. You call TxDOT or whatever agency is responsible. The agency gives you some lame reason. You report the lame reason.

"Where's the journalistic yearning for the truth?"


Beal cited the response in Move It to a reader's complaint about the slow progress of street paving in a 2-mile segment of Old Spanish Trail between Fannin and Texas 288.

L. Kian Granmayeh had said he passes the area daily and seldom sees anyone working. He wondered if the job would be completed in time for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's annual barbecue cookoff, beginning Feb. 22 at nearby Reliant Park.

TxDOT engineer Maureen Wakeland replied that the work had been delayed by rain -- you can't lay asphalt on a wet surface -- but she said she sees crews at work there when weather allows.

Beal was skeptical. "Could it be that the engineer always shows up on Tuesday at 10 a.m.?" he asked. "I wonder how long it takes a road crew to figure out the schedule?"

He suggested driving out to see. We actually do that a lot, especially when a ramp or signage problem is hard to visualize from a verbal description. But in this case, what would one visit prove?

You'd need to get a sample from visits at random times, or better still, knock on doors and ask what neighbors have observed. Frankly, that seems like overkill in this instance, but we'll keep an eye on the situation.

And we did check back with Wakeland. "We have made good progress this week," she said. "The contractor has completed about 50 percent of the asphalt work from Almeda to Kirby."

The contractor is also working longer hours to take advantage of good weather and should finish in time for the cookoff, Wakeland said.

Well, I can tell you that workers magically appeared on OST shortly after Sallee first addressed it. Where they were for however many weeks or months before that, when nothing at all was happening on this project, remains shrouded in mystery. Their re-apparition is somewhat of a mixed blessing, since they've taken to blocking off two of the three lanes on OST, thus hopelessly snarling the traffic, but at least now we can detect some signs of actual progress. This task will probably be done relatively quickly, assuming the rains didn't send everyone scurrying back to the same hidey hole they'd been in, which will once again force me to wonder why it took so damn long to finish what should have been a few weeks' worth of work. But hey, at least I won't be commuting this week, so maybe I'll miss some of the pain. As long as the job gets done before the street needs to be dug up again, that's all I ask.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 12, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles