LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - You may not have noticed them before, but I bet you will now. Dozens of cracks in the concrete pillars on the Marsha Sharp Freeway in Central Lubbock. Is it safe? Is this normal? We took your concerns to the Texas Department of Transportation and got you answers.
NewsChannel 11 got a call from a viewer claiming the Marsha Sharp Freeway appears unsafe. So we checked it out and we found crack, after crack, after crack. Nearly every pillar on the Marsha Sharp Highway had a crack in it - some worse than others. One driver says she noticed the cracks several months ago. The brand new structure wasn't even open to traffic until February of last year. So what gives? We used our camera lens to get a closer look at the damage, and then we showed that video to drivers. "I'll tell you what it was pretty scary seeing that video. It's scary that I've been on these bridges day in and day out to see that, yeah, it's pretty scary," one Lubbock driver reacts.
So are these bridges safe? We went to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to find out. They admit they weren't aware of the cracks in the pavement but after NewsChannel 11 alerted them of the cracks, they also went to check them out.
Dianah Ascencio with TxDOT says the cement that is cracking is a joint area, designed for movement, "As you see traffic move over the bridge you're seeing that movement create a crack where that joint is."
Taxpayers say they're not worried about the overpasses collapsing; they want to know how much it will cost them to fix the damage. But no worries, TxDOT claims there are no plans for repair. "It's all about funding, it's a new bridge. It's providing its purpose. People are driving over it. There's bound to be some wear and tear," Ascencio comments. One driver says he's willing to fork over the dollars, "I'd rather spend more money and make it a little bit safer and take the worry out of people."
Even though no repairs are scheduled it seems uncertain what the future holds for these overpasses. Ascensio says, "Most of these bridges are designed to last 50 plus years, so who is to say where we will be five years down the road." Especially to see where we are after only one year down the road. Ascensio claims, "I wouldn't say that we expected to see the cracks. You can't put a certain time frame on expected to see it or not, but it's not a surprise that there is a crack there."
Again, TxDOT says the bridge is completely safe to drivers. We will continue to follow this story and bring you any developments. By the way the Marsha Sharp Freeway is not finished being built and won't be until at least 2012.
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