LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - So far, about 390 complaints have been filed with the Texas Department of Transportation's Occupational Safety Division in regard to the east Loop 287 asphalt issue that resulted to asphalt from a construction zone in Lufkin sticking to the tires of passing cars and trucks. That number could wind up being "upwards of 500."
"We are still receiving complaints that could become claims," said Rhonda Oaks, a spokeswoman for TxDOT. "As of this morning, we have about 390 complaints to be filed with our Occupational Safety Division in Austin, but some were filed on Thursday and Friday already. In addition, we continue to have people calling the office who need to go online to the website address sent out last week - www.txdot.gov/cotact-us/form.html - to officially file their complaint for damages."
Oaks said once people file claims, those claims will be handled by TxDOT's Occupational Safety Division. The Occupational Safety Division will reach out to each person with instructions regarding how the damages will be resolved.
Not all of the complaints will wind up being damage claims, but most of them will, Oaks said.
"Each one will be handled in an efficient and timely manner by the Occupational safety Division in Austin, but it is up to the customer to initiate the claim online and provide proof of damages, receipts for repairs, etc."
In the wake of TxDOT's decision to close the east side of Lufkin's Loop 287 last week, the state agency announced that there is only one lane of traffic open on the north and southbound sides of the loop over the weekend.
"Only one lane is open in both south and northbound directions," Oaks said. "Prepare for delays. Southbound congestion is heavy in peak hours. Stay alert."
On Aug 31, numerous cars and 18-wheelers that were traveling on the east side of the Lufkin loop had to pull over because asphalt was sticking to their tires. TxDOT and the Lufkin Police Department made the decision to close that part of the loop to traffic.
Oaks said after east Loop 287 was closed, TxDOT workers bladed off the surface of the road and removed the soft asphalt and rock. That work left the rough road surfaces motorists are dealing with right now, Oaks said.
"We covered some areas with a pre-mix, so whatever might have been left would not pick up onto any other vehicles traveling in the lanes we have open," Oaks said.
Oaks said the work scheduled to start this week will include milling off up to one inch of the top surface of the roadway.
"We will then apply a permeable friction course (PFC) that will be the final application," Oaks said. "This top coat is designed to shed water. We will then re-stripe with the final lane designations."
If the weather permits, TxDOT hopes to have the project completed and the look back to normal by the end of September, Oaks said.