GOLIAD – In a one-mile stretch of road about a mile south of the U.S. 183 and State Road 239 intersection is what Goliad Sheriff Kirby Brumby calls the county’s Bermuda Triangle.
That’s because since 2014, the sheriff’s office has recorded 15 instances of cars, trucks, trailers and 18-wheelers driving off the east side of the highway into the bar ditch – and often plowing through a barbed wire fence that marks land owned by Jim Belknap.
“Every kind of vehicle made has gone through that fence,” Belknap says.
The frequency of the accidents is so high that one sheriff’s deputy has Belknap’s cellphone on speed dial.
A neighbor regularly warns her husband to slow down to 30 mph when traversing the mile of road.
Since 2015, Belknap has complained to Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Area Engineer Nicholas Novosad in Karnes City, asking him to install something to warn drivers to drive with caution along that stretch of highway.
He has recorded three wrecks in 2014, six in 2015, two in 2018, three in 2019 and, so far, one in 2020.
Also, he has logged every call to TxDOT. His file is about an inch thick.
Belknap is disappointed, so far, with the results.
Conditions that perhaps contribute to the plethora of accidents is that the highway goes down a shallow hill and also is an area where the speed limits are dropping from 75 to 60 to 55 mph.
“They don’t drive smart there,” Belknap says.
Although insurance has paid for repair each time his fence is broken, Belknap admits he’s growing weary of “all of this irritation.”
The latest incident occurred last week when an 18-wheeler was mired up to the hubcaps in the bar ditch.
“When I look down the highway,” Belknap says, “it looks to me as if the road is slightly banked toward the east side.
“I have two fears,” he says, “that during an accident some of the cattle grazing on my land will escape, which makes me responsible.
“And, worse, that someone is going to get killed, on my land.”
A solution already is underway. Rickey Dailey, a spokesman for TxDOT, says the department started work Dec. 1 on a $32-million, 30-month project to redo 22 miles of the highway which will include widening culverts and bridges, establishing left-turn lanes at State Highway 239 and to install permanent rumble strips along the center line and the shoulders of the highway.
“There could be any number of reasons (for the number of wrecks),” Daily says, “including distracted drivers, fatigued or drowsy drivers, motorists not driving to conditions, such as going too fast in rain or in fog.
Belknap favors signs warning drivers that the speed limit is reducing ahead. Anything to warn motorists they are about to enter Goliad County’s equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle.
Bill Clough is the Goliad editor at the Advance-Guard Press and can be reached at 361-645-2330, or at goliad@mySouTex.com.