NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A business owner in Nacogdoches County has created a petition urging the Texas Department of Transportation to add a turn lane to Highway 259 north Nacogdoches, a six-mile stretch of road with a history of violent crashes.
The section of road is located at the Cushing 'Y'; the center lane abruptly ends, the speed limit continues at 70 miles-per-hour, and shoulders are somewhat narrow. Home and business owners said pulling out into the road can be a dangerous gamble.
“Quite regularly I see people, all the time, they just have to speed up and go on down to the next road to exit the highway," said Travis Russell. “There’s just no where to go if there appears to be an accident fixing to happen.”
Russell knows about the danger in the area; he lives and works off the four-lane highway that has inches separating fast-moving traffic.
On Friday, March 8, two people were killed in a head-on collision. In October, Sheriff’s Deputy Raymond Jimmerson was struck and killed. Other crashes have happened over the years.
Russell keeps video of one caught on a surveillance video from his Highway 259 business.
“Now you see the car coming from the county road," said Russell, just moments before the cars collide out of frame. “Then there’s the sound of the impact.”
Russell has begun a petition asking the state to construct a middle lane, widen shoulders and add more safety features. He’s not the first: back in 2011, Herman Gibson, another businessman on the highway, made similar requests. His foreman was killed while heading out from work.
“There’s only 12 inches of width between the north and south bound lanes and a maximum of around 7 1/2 to 8 feet of shoulder, which is not anywhere close to wide enough, especially for highway workers and our law enforcement," Russell said.
As the wait for action continues, Constable Roger Dudley shares this safety advice to motorists.
“Tell folks to drive in the outside lane. Your speed in a T-bone, somebody pulling out, is a lot less than what would happen if somebody, an 18-wheeler hit you head on at 80 miles-an-hour," said Constable Roger Dudley, Nacogdoches County Precinct 3.
As far as turning onto the highway. ;et the numerous crosses displayed up and down the stretch serve as gentle reminders to look both ways and say a prayer.
“How many lives are we willing to lose before we do what we know is right?" said Russell.
The petition asking the state for safety improvements on the area of Highway 259 can be found in one of two places: Russell Drilling, and the Central Heights Independent School District’s administrative office. Both locations are on Highway 259.