Editor’s note: Answer Line has been on assignment this week. Look for new questions and answers soon. In the meantime, enjoy this best-of column from 2014:
QUESTION: In taking my fifth-wheel camper to a business in Longview, I went to route out my way to get to and from the business. This is when I found that the pedestrian bridge from Longview High School across Hawkins is unmarked as to height clearance. How come this is not noted on this overpass?
ANSWER: First, the clearance there is about 15 feet, 4 inches. I know that because Longview Public Works Director Rolin McPhee took the time to look up construction plans that show the bridge was designed with that clearance.
He also noted the plans didn’t call for a sign posting the clearance. He pointed to the Texas Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices for an explanation why.
The manual describes several types of warning devices: a “Low Clearance” sign in conjunction with a clearance sign if the clearance is less than 12 inches above the statutory maximum vehicle height of 14 feet (including the vehicle’s load); a clearance sign on non-state roads if the clearance is less than 14 feet, 6 inches; and a clearance sign for every structure over a state-maintained roadway, except overhead sign structures, for vertical clearances up to 20 feet.
The Hawkins Parkway pedestrian bridge at Longview High School meets none of those conditions.
Q: I thought there was a city of Longview ordinance regarding swimming pools that requires a fence around the pool. There is a house in my neighborhood where the fence around the pool also happens to be the gate to their backyard, the kind of gate you can drive a car through. It is constantly left open. I think it could be a hazard if somebody had small children visiting.
A: You’re right. City ordinance does require pools more than 12 inches deep to be surrounded by a fence or wall, although Development Services Director Michael Shirley told me the fence surrounding someone’s backyard, for instance, counts. However, leaving the gate open would violate that requirement because the barrier is not being maintained.
You can report your concern’s to the city’s building official by calling (903) 237-1060 or by using CitySend, the city’s online reporting system, at www.longviewtexas.gov .
Q: Is it illegal to walk in the street if a sidewalk is available? There is a woman who frequently walks down High Street in the street. There are sidewalks where she walks. She disrupts traffic. Someday she is going to cause an accident. Is there anything that can legally be done to curb this?
A: The Texas Transportation Code does require pedestrians to use sidewalks when available. Specifically, it says: “A pedestrian may not walk along and on a roadway if an adjacent sidewalk is provided and is accessible to the pedestrian ... If a sidewalk is not provided, a pedestrian walking along and on a highway shall if possible walk on: (1) the left side of the roadway; or (2) the shoulder of the highway facing oncoming traffic. (c) The operator of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, or private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian approaching on a sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance or exit, road, or driveway.”
I would call the police department’s non-emergency number to report this when you see it happening, at (903) 237-1199.