Residents prepare for daily detour with bridge collapse

RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - There were no injuries in an East Texas bridge collapse Friday, but the people who use the route everyday are sure to be hurting.

It is going to be a major inconvenience for thousands of East Texans as Highway 322 from the East Texas Regional Airport to Henderson is, and will be closed to traffic.

These are the preferred alternatives that you can use, according to TX-DOT:
You can take U.S. 259 from Henderson to Longview, or you can drive from FM 2276 to FM 349 which will take you just north of the East Texas Regional Airport. Either route will add considerable drive time to neighborhoods already facing travel on less than ideal roads.

"It is frustrating to those of us who live on this road," said resident Julie Tanner.

Plenty of pink tape and disappearing yellow lines mark the end of the road for Rusk County residents.  The bridge more than five thousand drivers travel every day is held up by the machine bringing it down, now raising drive time.

"Most of us are just thinking which roads are we going to take to get around it," said Tanner. "How we are going to maneuver because so many of our old country roads are no longer open."

Tanner used Highway 322 several times a week, relying on its direct route to Henderson to visit her doctor.

"Normally I could get to my doctor's office in less than 20 minutes now that's going to take about 45 minutes," said Tanner.

Today crews barricaded the bridge which will sit until transportation officials determine the extent of the damage, a decision L.G. Holland says can't come soon enough.

"[It's] going to be good and bad we live on this highway so it's going to be good because we won't have as much traffic," said Holland. "But it's going to be bad because we go to church down here at Providence Baptist Church so now we'll have to go plumb all the way down to F. M. 782 to go to church."

"I think somebody needs to check their vehicle for the bridge height before, I think that would be number one rule," said Sandy Sanders. "[I] just praise the Lord that nobody got hurt...I think that's the most important thing."

TX-DOT will be inspecting the bridge to determine the extent of the damage, but will be unable to do so until federal officials finish a current investigation into the Luminant mine safety operations.

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