But first, we must have our standard disclaimers. Do you remember back in August 2012 when I noted for the record that I'm not a traffic engineer, mobility expert, or any such related professional? At that time, I was describing what in my opinion was the conspiracy of dangerous circumstances that existed at the corner of West Walker Street and League City Parkway. To my relief, that intersection got revised lickety-split after I published those diagrams - the flashing yellow left-turn light sequence was deleted, as I personally feel it should have been. I don't know if that revision was in any way related to the alarm I sounded in my post, but it got done.
So I'm not a traffic engineer or anything remotely resembling it. (BTW, I apologize for my frequent disclaimer-packing of posts, but in this age of rampant SLAPP suits and other insidious curtails on the First Amendment, a blogger can't be too careful.) But I like to offer my opinions, just in case there proves to be any merit to them.
"The Bowl" whose existence I am postulating today is the one found on IH-10 just southwest of Taylor Bayou. If you've ever driven between Houston and Beaumont on IH-10, you've driven through what I call "The Bowl".
Low-res screengrab courtesy of KTRK.
|The scope of this event absolutely boggled the imagination. KTRK's headline read "Two killed, dozens injured in massive I-10 pile-up".|
Video screengrab courtesy of KTRK-TV.
KHOU (and probably other news services) made what I consider to be a very telling statement during their reporting on this incident: "Early last year there was a similar smash-up on that same stretch of roadway." If memory serves me correctly, there was also an inconceivably-high number of vehicles involved in that previous incident - but I can't find web references to it now because it has been submerged by the avalanche of reporting on the subsequent Thanksgiving 2012 event.
Beaumont Enterprise went on to recount the sequential mechanics that resulted in the tragic deaths of the Leggios. Here's the thing, though: I can't locate any source which examines the potential for contributing factors originating with the environment. It is possible that the dearth of information on the web is simply an artifact of reporting bias: most news outlets focused on the details of the accident itself. Any investigative reporter who also focused more closely on prevailing roadway conditions may have simply gotten lost in the crowd.
So in the absence of that perspective, let me tell you what I've personally observed about the area of the crash, which I have been driving through at least several times per year for about twenty years now. Again, I'm not an expert and I can't pass judgment on these things. If anything, I'd hope that a strictly-personal account such as the one below would raise enough questions in some investigator's mind such that a formal analysis would then be done (if it hasn't been already) to confirm or deny the existence of unusual conditions in the area of question.
|"The Bowl" is roughly centered on Mile Marker 835 on IH-10.|
|Here is a close-up of a Leggio highway memorial that has been erected near the foot of this Mile Marker. May they rest in peace.|
Sorry for the blurry photo - in this previous post, I explained how I do a lot of pic-taking simply by shooting photo frames without looking, because I can't take my eyes off the road. I took the photos in this post on or about January 29, 2013.
|Here's a view to the north / northwest, looking across the westbound lanes and showing the ring of trees being mostly unbroken.|
|Driving up over the rim of "The Bowl" at Taylor Bayou. Up, and out.|
And there's yet another potentially-conspiring factor to keep in mind regarding this location:
|Is something like this warranted? Has anyone done a study to confirm or deny whether an advisory should be posted?|
Sign screengrabbed from this site.