Highways getting safer in north Bee County with passing lanes, speed zone warningsv
by Jason Collins
Mar 26, 2011 | 1876 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents and motorists around Mineral, Pawnee and Pettus could see some changes in the highways and roadways, including passing lanes and early warning signs for speed zones.

Dennis DeWitt, Precinct 2 county commissioner, said that he met with officials at the Texas Department of Transportation about concerns surrounding these areas and traffic flow.

Shortly after taking office in January, DeWitt asked permission from the other commissioners to approach TxDOT with his concerns.

In an e-mail dated March 9, Ismael C. Soto, director of traffic operations, told DeWitt that while the speed limits in Mineral seemed appropriate, there was some work that they could do to improve the situation.

“We agreed that adding intersection warning signs with advisory speed plaques on FM 673 would be the best prescription and would help reinforce the reduced speed limit,” Soto said in the letter. “We will ask our maintenance section to install those signs at their first chance.”

Pawnee was another concern.

Just over a year ago, Pawnee ISD opened its new school and it sits right next to Farm-to-Market Road 673 which is why DeWitt was asking the state to create a school zone in that area.

Soto responded, “School children walking across our state roadways is the main requirement in establishing school zones. Our review of the locations near the school did not indicate this occurring.”

But, while the state won’t be following DeWitt’s request, the department will be making changes.

Soto wrote, “We feel that the vehicular circulation to and from the school can be improved with the addition of a left-turn lane at the state highway/FM 673 intersection and a wider shoulder or a right-turn lane at the SH 72/FM 798 intersection.

“We will work towards this when the opportunity arises.

In Pettus, the concern wasn’t at the school but on the dusty roadways and motorists speeding through the community.

The dust, Soto wrote, could be reduced by placing stop signs in areas where motorists are coming off these dirt roads and onto pavement. The speeding might simply be fixed by adding a passing lane outside of town.

“We will also be working to develop a project to add (passing lanes) on U.S. Highway 181 outside of Pettus,” Soto wrote.

“By giving motorists the opportunity to pass in an area outside of Pettus, we should be able to diminish the need for motorists to pass inside of Pettus.”

DeWitt said he was pleased overall with the outcome.

“The thing I have to appreciate is them getting on it so quickly,” he said.

He understood that not everything could be done immediately or done his way.

“You can’t expect it that,” he said. “I am very pleased. They are good bunch of folks.”

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at
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