TxDOT officials hope projects in Lufkin, Nacogdoches will improv - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

TxDOT officials hope projects in Lufkin, Nacogdoches will improve safety, congestion

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LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -

 Construction on the expansion project that began on Loop 287 last September is taking shape and ultimately making roads safer for drivers.

The clover leaf on Highway 59 is a popular route for truck drivers, but many of those 18-wheelers overturn, causing multiple vehicles accidents or just holding up traffic.

"That is more of an antiquated kind of system having a clover leafs so going to a diamond interchange is going to be safer." Kathi White, a TxDOT spokesperson said.

In 18 months, the removal of the Lufkin on-ramp will begin, and in Nacogdoches, plans are in motion to reconstruct the 224 Loop in February of 2014.

"These projects are to improve safety and congestion in both communities," White said.

For instance, one spot on Highway 59's clover leaf has been the scene of many rollovers, and some of those drivers have been charged with failure to control speed, a Class C misdemeanor.

John Smart has been driving trucks for 26 years and frequently travels through Lufkin, and he believes removing the problem spot reduces the risk of a toppled truck.

"A lot safer, a lot better," Smart said.

Just Tuesday, a Lufkin truck driver overturned his 18-wheeler while exiting Loop 224 on to Highway 59.

White said once that area is remodeled, curves on the road won't be an issue.

"It would be straight," White said. "You wouldn't make that right curve; you would just go straight through the intersection."

With the ramp makeovers over a year away, truck drivers say they are staying proactive behind the wheel.

"Watch your speed there, and you really have to watch oncoming traffic and merging traffic," Smart said.

Officials say the expansion will improve traffic flow but their priority is to increase safety on the road. Lufkin's highway expansion project is projected to take three years. Construction on the Nacogdoches Loop will being in 2014.

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