The two dozen lawsuits that have piled up against Grand Prairie's Cardinal Coachlines in the wake of last spring's grisly bus crash on the Bush Turnpike in Irving were predictable enough. Three dead, dozens more seriously injured, almost all senior citizens bound for Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma -- all because, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the driver couldn't stay in his lane.
On Friday, the North Texas Tollway Authority joined the line of plaintiffs, filing a lawsuit claiming negligence on the part of Cardinal Coachlines and its driver, Loyd Rieve. Their suit, however, isn't about the human toll of the crash. Rather, the NTTA wants compensation for property damage and lost toll revenue.
NTTA spokesman Michael Rey put the agency's losses at upwards of $100,000.
"That's for damage to the roadway, resources to work the accident and lost revenue for the hours the road was shut down," Rey wrote in an email. "The insurance company failed to address NTTA's claim in satisfactory fashion, so NTTA filed suit to protect its rights."
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Rey didn't provide a breakdown of damages, but the loss in toll revenue alone would have been substantial. The southbound stretch of the turnpike was shut down for 3 hours, 31 minutes, according to the suit. Northbound -- the direction the bus was traveling -- the closure lasted from 9 a.m. to 5:14 p.m., spanning parts of morning and evening rush hour.
According to a recent NTTA revenue study, the average daily traffic volume on the Bush Turnpike through Irving is between 40,000 and 50,000 cars in each. Assuming that a third of those cars took alternate routes or left the tollway before they otherwise would have (and this is pure speculation), and that every one of those vehicles would have ended up paying NTTA $2.50 for their trip, the loss would have been in the ballpark of $75,000.
NTTA may not have an easy time collecting. Cardinal filed for bankruptcy last month, listing just over $13,000 in total assets.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.