TYLER, Texas (KETK)- For months, East Texas residents have been trying to save homes that may be affected by the Toll 49 expansion.
Now, inside a meeting held at WE-HOPE Ranch Thursday night, the “Keep Loop Off Lake” coalition is pushing for change, and for some it’s personal.
KLOL, Keep Loop Off Lake, is a coalition of citizens and businesses who have come together to oppose the outer proposed routes. KLOL supports the green route which is now being recognized as the “public route.” KLOL is also advocating for the proper safety features to be added to Toll 49.
During the meeting, it was a standing room, as community members attended to listen to what could possibly happen in their own backyard.
One of the speakers was Ross Pritchard, who explained how at one point in his life, he didn’t think he would be able to stand.
“A car came across the yellow lines and hit me head-on,” says Pritchard.
In November of 2018, Pritchard was driving home on Toll 49. When another motorist crossed into the other lane, hitting Pritchard, leaving him severely injured.
“I sat in a car with my legs pinned for about 20 to 25 minutes, waiting my turn to be cut out,” describes Pritchard.
While in the hospital, he explains just a few of his injured including, “a punctured lung, a broken rib, lacerations on my arms, under my chin. Most significantly my right leg was broken in three places, my femor was rodded, and a screw had to be used to reattach my ankle.”
Now, he’s warning others of the dangers that lurk on the toll road. Pritchard believes accidents in the future could be avoided with the help of concrete dividers.
“It could happen to anyone’s son, anyone’s boyfriend, anyone’s father, and if I can save one life through promoting a sand divider then I think I’m doing something good,” says Pritchard.
With safety being a major concern for many on the road, Keep Loop Off Lake is partnering with the Facebook group, “Terrible Toll 49.” A social media page, where East Texans post local crashes and updates happening on the toll road.
During the meeting, attendees talked about ideas on how to make the road safer as it expands.
The meeting also highlighted the different route options. For some, this isn’t the first time they have had problems.
“I’ve already done this once, I actually went to court with the DOT and the State of Texas regarding eminent domain under property that I owned out South,” says Dr. Robert Carney.
Back in the early ’90s, Dr. carney decided to invest in the land with the hopes of building a home, when he found out the beginning stages of the Toll Road would go through the property.
After his land was split in half, he decided to invest in a different property, after he says he was told the Toll would expand using the Teal Route option.
When the six options were announced he was left shocked.
“Well it’s frustrating obviously, I’m frustrated. I think you make a promise, you make a commitment, and then suddenly there’s all these rabbits that pop up,” explains Dr. Carney.
Dr. Carney says he is still battling with Toll 49. His 1,000-acre property is in jeopardy again.
To this day, Dr. Carney says part of his land purchased back in the ’90s is still landlocked, and cannot be reached.
After lawyers, and lawsuits, he is hoping through the Keep Loop Off Lake Coalition, NET RMA board members will make a change.