County and School Leaders Push For Woodrow Road Overpass - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/25/07

County and School Leaders Push For Woodrow Road Overpass

County and school leaders are pushing for an overpass at one of Lubbock County's most dangerous intersections.

Their concern is Woodrow Road and US Highway 87 and Monday Lubbock County Commissioners unanimously approved sending a formal request to the Texas Department of Transportation to construct an overpass at that intersection. This comes after several serious accidents and three deaths at that the intersection in recent years.

County Commissioner of Precinct 1 Bill McCay says, "We're just going to keep pushing as hard as we can until we get that intersection is  one of the safest in the county instead of one of the most dangerous."

The speed limit on US 87 is 70 miles an hour, while on Woodrow the speed limit is 60 miles an hour. Those high speeds are just part of the reason supporters say an overpass is needed. But despite their efforts, TxDOT says it may not happen until 2015.

Fast speeds and a high volume of traffic at Woodrow Road and US 87 proved to be a nearly deadly combination for Jimmy Smith's daughter.

"She turned in front of a car and it was lucky for both of them that day. She came out in pretty good shape but he didn't," says Smith.

While Smith's daughter was okay, the other driver, Justin Kiesling, had to be treated for serious injuries.

"When I got there it was real bad. We were fortunate, she was lucky. And he was lucky he wasn't killed," adds Smith.

But others have not been as lucky. In 2005, DPS says Oscar Beltran pulled out in front of Ford Explorer. His two passengers died in the crash, while Beltran later died of injuries from the accident.

Steve Warren, Director of Transportation, Planning and Development for TxDOT says the intersection is not that deadly based on the numbers.

"I've got the traffic accident reports over the last four years and best I can tell there have been three fatalities in 4 years," says Warren.

Warren says that is still too many. However, overpass construction is based on delay to travel, traffic congestion, development and safety.

Pat Henderson, Superintendent of Lubbock Cooper ISD says could be improved by an overpass.

"We are requesting officially that they consider building an overpass out here. We know it's expensive, we know there are other projects but if you don't request it, it'll never get on the list," says Henderson.

"If we had the funds today maybe an overpass is the thing we need to do. But at this point in the time funding is not there and we're going to continue to work towards a better solution at this point," says Warren.

Warren explains that means continued monitoring of the impact of added left turn lanes and warning lights.

"Before we jump into building an overpass we need to exhaust any other possibilities for a more cost effective solution to the problem," Warren adds.

 And, in Smith's eyes that means an overpass.

"These kids could get off and the staff here has grown by leaps and bound and the district is growing. The traffic at this intersection is only going to get heavier. It is not ever going to get lighter," says Smith.

TxDOT says an overpass at this intersection could cost up to $15 million, but federal funding is already tied up until about 2015.

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