Friday, September 23, 2005


Rita has already revealed one villain, and it’s not racism or tax cuts or the eeeevil George Bush.

It’s the Texas Department of Transportation.

There is no excuse for waiting as long as they did to reverse Gulfbound lanes on the major highways out of Houston to inlandbound. That should have been done yesterday morning instead of in the afternoon. Yes, they then did their best. But the damage was done. Untold numbers of people were stuck on the highways, running out of gas in 100 degree heat.

I don’t take this error as a one time deal. There is a part of TxDOT culture that JUST DOESN’T CARE if you are stuck.

I’ve personally experienced this (albeit on a much lesser scale) more than once. Even getting a driver’s license renewed is an ordeal. There is always a long wait involved. The other day, all I wanted to do (and am required to do by law) was change the address on my driver’s license. I had to wait for one hour. And that was mid-afternoon. No telling how bad it was at lunch or after work.

Then there was the time I was driving north on I-35 through Austin. There was a bad, long dose of gridlock. I think it was because of construction. TxDOT didn’t even put up a sign beforehand warning of delays, much less advising alternative routes. And this is I-35 going through Austin, folks.

TxDot needs to get a bit more concerned about TRANSPORTATION, about keeping people moving, instead of about nailing them with questionable tickets and absurd waits.

If I were Governor Rick Perry, I’d be thinking about whom I want to fire at TxDOT. I’ve had it with TxDOT culture, and I wasn’t one of those poor people trying to leave Houston yesterday.

By the way, what those people went through makes it even less likely I will ever evacuate a hurricane in the future. Given the choice between dealing with a hurricane or TxDOT, I’ll deal with the hurricane just about any day of the week.

UPDATE: Apparently, those remaining in Houston agree. I've looked at a couple webcams, and I-45 going north out of Houston is amazingly empty.

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