Transportation officials are still working to expand Toll 49. However, many East Texans are wondering how safe it is to drive on it. Several deadly crashes have some drivers blaming Net RMA for not putting up dividers to separate lanes. Many believe this is a simple fix, officials say it’s not that easy.
Toll 49 has gained quite the reputation, with some calling it “Terrible Toll 49” and “the widow maker.” All stemming from the number of people killed while driving on it. Road officials say someone could be to blame, but it’s not them.
Thousands of people drive Toll 49 every day, but with destruction and lives being lost, many wonder how safe the road is.
“An illegal substance or excessive speeding or distracted driving of some kind,” those are a few factors Chris Miller, the Executive Director of NET RMA, says goes into every wreck. Miller goes on to explain, the crash doesn’t happen because of the toll road, referring to a wreck back in March, involving a bus of Brookhill student and a pick-up truck.
“We were getting ready to exit off highway 69 off of route 49, I was sitting on the front row enough that I saw the car kind of veer over into our lane,” said Jereme Hubbard back in March 2019. He was inside the bus when the wreck happened. Killing the driver and passenger of the pick-up truck, and leaving no one inside the bus seriously injured.
“We know from what came back out that it involved alcohol and illegal substances that were in the systems of the driver and the passenger,” says Miller. He goes on the explain more often than not, these crashes happen because of the person behind the wheel, “there is a reaction I think initially that oh this is the fault of the road.”
Despite the ongoing concerns with Toll 49, transportation officials say there has been an increase in the number of people driving it.
“This means that it continues to be a real viable choice for transportation needs in this area,”
Showing a green light for Net RMA to continuing moving in the right direction.
One suggestion community members have is to add barriers in the middle of the road to prevent head-on collisions. Miller says that is something NET RMA is taking into consideration as they plan to extend Toll 49.