Nacogdoches Co. constable: New 75 mph speed limits on rural roads too fast

Published: Jul. 8, 2013 at 9:39 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The newly enacted 75 mph speed limit is being criticized by a Nacogdoches County Constable.

Rodger Dudley is taking his concern to a state senator. The faster speed and the procedure for establishing speed zones puzzles the man East Texas News accompanied during a routine patrol.

"What were they thinking?" asked Pct. 3 Constable Roger Dudley.

That's what goes through Dudley's mind each time he sees a 75 mph speed limit sign on a busy rural highway.

"I am perplexed on why we have the same speed limits that's on 99 percent of our interstate highway systems that are controlled access and not all the private driveways and all the mailboxes," Dudley said.

And Dudley knows how many mailboxes are on the most dangerous roads, including State Highway 7 East between Nacogdoches and Center.

"It's 162; we counted from the loop in Nacogdoches to the river at the county line," Dudley said. "My other concern is Highway 259 North and in that 11-mile stretch from the county line to the loop we counted about 320 mailboxes and then about 200 on 59 North."

Rural residential areas are just one of several factors the Texas Department of Transportation lists in its procedures for establishing speed zones. So too are hidden driveways.

"The crashes all began right here," Dudley said.

The fatality followed numerous previous bad wrecks and car deaths. It began Dudley's public outcry opposing higher speed limits. Crash history is also a consideration when setting speed limits.

"I've stopped several running from 90, 92, 94, 96," Dudley said.

Dudley also said if you drive slower than the speed limit, watch your rear view mirrors.

"Then cars will get on your bumper because they think you're driving so slow you're impeding traffic," Dudley said.

Horizontal and vertical curves limiting sight distance are also considered by a consulting firm hired by the State of Texas.  Dudley wonders what roadway they were traveling.

"We're coming upon a curve," Dudley said.

The stretch of the road Dudley was referring to goes right through communities where motorists were once instructed to slow down.

"We're coming through Shady Grove," Dudley said. "There's no reduced speed."

During our non-peak-drive time on Highway 7 East there weren't that many speeders. It's the same time of day when studies say at least 85 percent of the surveyed cars were speeding. During peak drive times when Dudley sees most violations is not utilized in studies.

"They will not do it during peak driving times," Dudley said.

When setting speed limits, there's a goal in mind.

"Basically keep traffic moving," said Kathi White, a spokesperson for TxDOT. "That's the ultimate goal. You want to keep them moving."

White says it's too early to determine if East Texans are moving too fast on rural roadways.

"We haven't really had an opportunity to gather enough data to say if it warrants a change, but we will monitor those and take the necessary steps if needed," White said.

Meanwhile, Dudley collects his own data.

"That truck was going 82," he said.

Dudley has contacted State Senator Robert Nichols, the chair of the transportation committee, with his concerns about the procedures for establishing speed zones.

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