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

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Construction on the expansion project that began on Loop 287 last Septemberis taking shape and ultimately making roads safer for drivers.

Theclover leaf on Highway 59 is a popular route for truck drivers, but many ofthose 18-wheelers overturn, causing multiple vehicles accidents or just holdingup traffic.

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

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

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

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

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

"A lot safer, a lot better," Smartsaid.

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

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

"It would be straight," White said. "Youwouldn't make that right curve; you would just go straight through theintersection."

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

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

Officials say the expansion will improvetraffic flow but their priority is to increase safety on the road. Lufkin's highway expansion project is projected to takethree years. Construction on the Nacogdoches Loopwill being in 2014.

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