Except for a memorable afternoon of standstill traffic — and the maybe 1,500 gallons of gasoline that made their way through storm sewers to Galveston Bay — no major disaster resulted from that tanker spill 2 Fridays ago on Bellaire Blvd. below the West Loop. That’s better than the last time: “[L]ongtime residents of the area remember an incident in May 1976 when a truck carrying anhydrous ammonia slammed into a bridge railing on the connector from the West Loop to the southbound Southwest Freeway and fell onto the freeway below. Of those within 1,000 feet of the spill, six people died, 78 suffered serious injuries and 100 more were treated for their exposure. That tragedy played out only about a mile from the site of Friday’s accident.
Thirty-four years after that terrible day, nothing has changed. The poorly engineered West Loop, as it approaches the 59, is one of the worst sites for accidents in the U.S. — yet it is also designated pathway for some of the most hazardous cargo in the world. More is transported on the vulnerable tracks that run through southwest Houston, divide West University and Bellaire, skirt along Afton Oaks, River Oaks and Memorial Park.” [West University Examiner]