TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A man who was injured after he crashed his car while traveling on a one-lane bridge in Pflugerville is suing Travis County, the city of Pflugerville and the Texas Department of Transportation claiming the agencies didn’t take the measures needed to make the bridge safer.
The lawsuit states Joshua Mendez was driving on Weiss Lane on June 27, 2015 when he approached the bridge and didn’t realize the two lanes turned into one. The TxDOT crash report indicates Mendez’s “front left bumper hit the concrete lip on the bridge, causing the vehicle to do a barrel roll off the bridge and in to the embankment.”
The plaintiff’s attorney, Mark McLean, says the warning sign for the Weiss Lane Bridge was overgrown with brush the day Mendez crashed. The lawsuit goes on to say the sign only states “One Lane Bridge,” and does not mention anything about no guardrails on the bridge or a steep drop-off into Wilbarger Creek below.
McLean says Mendez suffered from fractured ribs, spinal injuries and a lacerated tongue. Days after the crash, KXAN talked to neighbors who live near the bridge who said the bridge is unsafe.
“I think it’s very dangerous,” said neighbor Robert Prater, who can see the bridge from his house. Prater is even more concerned with more traffic that will be heading to the new Pflugerville high school that’s opening in the fall. The school is a few hundred feet from the bridge, and Prater thinks there needs to be more safety measures.
“That they put something there that’s flashing and almost controls the traffic,” explains Prater.
When we spoke with the Travis County Transportation Department just after this crash, they told us they had no plans to add extra signs, and the bridge is not designed to safely support a guardrail. The county would not comment Tuesday, because of the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims the defendants had knowledge of the dangerous nature of the bridge as early as 2011, when the Weiss Lane Safety Improvements 2011 Bond was approved.
In 2014 and 2015, several city and county bonds were passed that allowed for funding to improve Weiss Lane. The project includes widening the roadway from Wilbarger Creek to Cele Road from two lanes to four lanes with curb and gutter and drainage improvements. The project also includes reconstruction of all bridges from Pecan Street to Cele Road starting with the one-lane bridge closest to Pecan St.
The city of Pflugerville is managing the project and says crews will begin widening Weiss Lane in the Spring, and the bridge is a priority. They hope to have the bridge finished by August before school opens.
Mendez and his attorney have requested a jury trial, and are seeking more than $200,000 but less than $1 million in damages.