ROADSIDE RANGERS: NET RMA announces new program to help stranded drivers

Local News

TYLER, Texas (KETK)- Rain or shine, many Texas drivers will hit the road this holiday season and the North East Texas Mobility Authority (NET RMA) wants to make sure everyone stays out of harm’s way.

The Roadside Rangers program is a service geared towards drivers on Toll 49. The team is comprised of three Roadside Rangers who work to resolve maintenance issues such as clearing debris and repairing guard rails, signs, and potholes.

“You have somebody out here for at least the length of this roadway that’s kind of got your back, we’re out here day in and day out,” said Mark McClanahan, Director of Maintenance for NET RMA.

The program is also in place to help drivers who may be stranded on the Toll road by:

  • Offering a gallon of gas
  • “Jump starting” vehicles if the battery is dead
  • Refilling oil
  • Refilling a radiator with antifreeze/coolant
  • Changing a flat tire

“Our three Roadside Rangers are NET RMA’s eyes on the road,” says Chris Miller, Executive Director of NET RMA. “By proactively responding to maintenance issues, as motorist assistance, they are making Toll 49 safer.”

With road officials expecting travelers to use the toll road to get in and out of Tyler, they’re hoping this new program will help.

“They’re our paying customers so we’re trying to give a little bit more service to them,” said McClanahan.

Currently, the Roadside Rangers patrol the toll road seven days a week, assisting stranded motorists during the day with a goal of eventually expanding the program to 24-hours a day.

While being stuck on the side of the road can be extremely dangerous and NET RMA trying to make sure everyone travels safely, some wonder if the Ranger’s program is enough.

“It’s a fine thing to do, but no, NET RMA should be focused on trying to separate traffic,” said Bill Bala, a former Smith County engineer.

During his role as an engineer, Bala acted as a non-voting member of the NET RMA board.

Bala says while the new program is a good start, more precautions need to be taken to improve safety.

“It’s pretty obvious there’s a problem. It’s a high-speed two-lane road, and there’s no physical division,” explained Bala, “Not just a rumble strip or the delineators. They need to address the issue.”

Pointing to the number of accidents that have happened on Toll 49. Bala believes many of them could have been prevented if the road was completely separated or if medians were built in.

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