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New Legislation Sets Out To Hold Truck Drivers And Companies Responsible For Bridge Strikes.

Permian Basin roads are full of commercial trucks and passenger vehicles as its economy and population expands. (Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

By Mitch Borden

A new bill that would hold companies and truck drivers responsible for bridge strikes is headed to the Texas Governor’s desk to be signed.

House Bill 799 was introduced by Odessa’s state representative Brooks Landgraf. His proposal would hold commercial truck drivers and their employers responsible for any repairs needed after an oversized vehicle hits a bridge or overpass and causes damage. Drivers could also be charged with a misdemeanor for bridge strikes.

Landgraf’s district is based in the Permian Basin and the region has seen an increase in commercial traffic on its roads as the area’s oil industry flourishes. That success has also caused an increase in infrastructure costs. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates there were at least 82 bridge strikes across the state in 2018, which is a significant increase from years past.

Landgraf has said taxpayers shouldn’t be financially responsible for damages caused by commercial traffic. If signed by Governor Greg Abbot, the bill would go into effect later this year.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.