|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
TxDOT announces plan for U.S. 59 in Goodrich
BY VALERIE REDDELL
GOODRICH — Ask any driver what stretch of roadway in Polk County causes them to grip the steering wheel a little tighter and breathe a sigh of relief when they've successfully negotiated it and you will get an almost unanimous vote — U.S. 59 between Livingston and Goodrich; where tractortrailers are entering and exiting the roadway to visit the truck stops. It's an area that sees several fatal accidents every year, numerous serious injuries and — as participants in last week's public hearing point out — near misses that are too numerous to count. "It's been a death trap and we want to try to fix it," Col. Howard Daniels said. Daniels has facilitated an effort between local businesses, residents and the Texas Department of Transportation to find a solution. The Lufkin District of TxDOT is moving forward with a proposal to close all of the crossovers in the area except Knight St., Bishop St., and Queens Row, which would give the residents of Chesswood access in and out of the subdivision, area maintenance engineer Kevin Harbuck of Livingston told a crowd of about 25 people who turned out for the meeting. At the southern-most crossover, TxDOT plans to design a turnaround and create an acceleration lane for the large trucks to take them out of the main lanes of traffic. The trucks that are entering the truck stops can move off the northbound lanes into either of those businesses, but there will no longer be trucks pulled across the northbound lanes of traffic. When exiting the truck stop, no vehicles will be allowed to turn left. They will have to enter the northbound lanes. Three of the four existing crossovers would be closed and all traffic would have to turn right and travel north for about 1,500 feet until they could make a u-turn to move to the southbound lanes of U.S. 59. Trucks would have to use the acceleration lane to build up speed and merge into the main lanes of traffic rather than pulling across them at a 90-degree angle. Herbert Bickley, director of Transportation Operations for the Lufkin District of TxDOT, also addressed questions about a suggested speed limit increase on U.S. 59 between Livingston and Goodrich, and Goodrich and Shepherd. Bickley explained that a speed survey had been done from the south end of Goodrich to Livingston where speed limits went up and down to attempt to create some consistency, especially where there is a grade separation in Goodrich. The theory of the speed study is that results tend to create a bell curve at the 85 percent of the drivers will drive at a safe and prudent speed for the conditions. The highway department also considers other factors in such as driveway density and serious crashes when they come up with a recommended speed. Bickley said based on the study the recommended speed in Goodrich would be between 67 and 65 in Goodrich and north of the city limits in would be 70. At the truck stop it would be 64 and between the truck stop to the Livingston city limits they would recommend 68-70 miles an hour. Bickley said looking at crash statistics, the number of wrecks had reduced through the years in Goodrich. Most of the crashes in Polk County had occurred at the truck stops and at intersections with County Roads throughout Livingston. Nita Gokey, Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Goodrich, said the city was opposed to any raising the speed limit even to 60 miles an hour. She pointed out the lower speed limits in Shepherd. "We have no feeder roads. People are trying to cross over and go north — it's a recipe for disaster. We have elderly people trying to go to the post office. Now you have to turn and make the loop. If you make it 75, I'm afraid they're going to drive 85. Several other residents expressed their displeasure that Shepherd recently upgraded section of roadway remains at 55 miles per hour and yet drivers get to move faster through Polk County. Bickley said a speed study would be in the works for Shepherd, but TxDOT likes to give motorists a chance to adjust so that traffic patterns have time to settle down before they do the study.