Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is aware and is doing what it can to alleviate some of the problems, but they need drivers to slow down and watch for workers. TxDOT has taken a step to make that slow down mandatory.
“The safety of the traveling public was TxDOT’s primary concern,” said Lonnie Gregorcyk, P.E., interim district engineer for the TxDOT Corpus Christi District, in a press release. “The traffic growth has been so significant, and maintenance crews are out there every day trying to make these roads as safe as possible. Reducing speed in maintenance work zones is reasonable and prudent to protect drivers, highway contractors and TxDOT employees.”
Speed limits will soon be reduced on approximately 340 miles of roads that run through Bee, Live Oak, Goliad and Karnes counties. The reductions, which are to be temporary, were approved by Texas Transportation Commission on May 31 in Austin.
According to a press release from the Transportation Commission, they can vote to reduce speeds “if an engineering and traffic investigation determine a change is warranted” or, as in the case with this approval, if the speed reductions are to be in construction zones.
The speed limits on the designated roads will be reduced from 70 mph to 60 mph, but how much of the road will receive the reduced speed will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
“The Commission’s authorization to reduce speed limits on certain highways where maintenance work is done is a blanket authorization for that highway,” Tom Tagliabue, public information officer for TxDOT, said.
“Where the work is going to take place will change depending on the condition of the highway. For example, while the authorization may be for all of FM 99 in Karnes County, the reduced speed limit may actually be for a smaller segment of the highway where TxDOT maintenance work will be occurring. It is designed to reduce speeds on an as-needed basis, where TxDOT is working to repair the highway, to ensure the safety of TxDOT employees in the field and the safety of drivers in the work zone.”
Drivers who travel the reduced-speed roads can expect to see maintenance activity such as paving repairs, road level ups, base repairs, edge repairs and pothole repairs. These repairs are separate from the additional passing lanes that have been approved for construction on some of the roads later in the year.
At this time, there is not an expiration date placed on the speed reductions.
“The reductions will be in place as long as the maintenance operation is happening to ensure a safe working environment for TxDOT employees and drivers going through the work zone, Tagliabue said. “It may be a few days or it may be a few weeks, depending on the scope of the maintenance project.”
It could be several weeks before the speed reduction signs are installed on the roads, but once the signs are installed, fines for tickets will be doubled when TxDOT workers are present.