Houston Area Transportation Infrastructure Largely Still Unusable
All major transportation networks remained suspended Aug. 30 in the Houston area, but inspections of damaged infrastructure are beginning and $25 million in federal aid for highway repairs are on the way.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced Tuesday that the $25 million was immediately available. “The … funds help states pay for the costs of needed temporary repairs and facilitates permanent restoration of service in the weeks ahead,” stated a release from the Federal Highway Administration.
According to the Texas Dept. of Transportation, more than 500 roadways are still flooded, although some previously flooded roadways in southeast Texas have reopened. The agency has a website, www.drivetexas.org, that provides updates on road closures.
The Houston Metro announced that its Metrolift shuttle is available with a day’s notice for people requiring medical emergency transportation, but that all other services remained suspended.
The two Class 1 railroads, BNSF and Union Pacific (UP), both announced they are beginning inspections and repair work, but that train flows through the area remain suspended with no estimate yet regarding resumption of service.
“Given the size and scope of this historic flooding, normal train flows in the area are not likely to resume for an extended period,” cautioned a BNSF advisory. “Crews will be conducting inspections and beginning repair work today in some locations. Equipment and resources are positioned to support these restoration efforts as conditions improve.”
UP also announced that crews were beginning to inspect track. Its advisory states: “As weather and access to storm-damaged areas allow, we are inspecting and repairing track, bridges and signals to return to service as quickly and safely as possible. We are beginning to inspect most areas in Houston and west of Houston. In areas where we have no road access, we are utilizing helicopters and drones to inspect areas by air. The majority of areas east of Houston are still inaccessible at this time. We expect to be able to begin clean-up at our Englewood and Settegast yards in Houston today or tomorrow in order to return the yards to service.”
The Houston Airport System and the Port of Houston both announced that service remains suspended with no estimate on reopening. On social media, airport officials stated the terminals and garages were not affected by Harvey.
In a press conference, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that the airports “are usable, but not for commercial flights” —but for incoming FEMA shipments