SAFETY CONCERNS FOR SCHOOLS: Net RMA speaks on Toll 49 worries raised by local

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The expansion of Toll 49 has left many people wondering what route will be given the green light.

Now, two organizations are trying to find middle ground on this road. After Net RMA narrowed six route options down to three, the organizations “Keep Loop Off Lake” and “Save Kids from Loop 49” are working to oppose the adjusted teal route.

SCHOOL SAFETY

One of the major concerns “Save Kids from Loop 49” has raised, is the safety of students traveling to school in the morning.

“The biggest concern is this route will place a major interchange 800 feet from Kissam Elementary School, and these kids can’t speak for themselves and that’s why we formed this group,” said Jeremy Wilson, one of the founders of Save Kids from Loop.

Pointing to a problem in the number of schools that will be affected if the Teal route is built.

“The whole area is high traffic in the morning and afternoon when school is being released,” said Kenneth Cagle, a resident who is opposed to the adjusted Teal Route.

In response to this concern, Toll 49, segment 6 project manager, Elizabeth Story, points to examples where toll roads have been adjacent to school districts and has helped.

Stating roads in El Paso and Austin, have worked with the community to make sure the construction runs smoothly for drivers.

“The agency in charge of that project worked very closely with the school about improvements to traffic patterns, access changes, and help with access to the high school,” explained Story.

SAFETY OF THE ROAD ITSELF

Recently, Toll 49, has been lined with delineators for a one mile stretch of road. Additions like these are just a small way NET RMA officials say they are hoping to contribute to the overall safety of the road.

“The NET RMA’s existing Toll 49, safety is a component that the agency is always looking at,” Story points to the new additions to the road as an example, “to see how that helps with driver’s who may be distracted. That would keep them from getting out of their lane. So there are many ways that the NET RMA is looking for safety in the existing Toll 49.”

However, with stories from friends and families, about the dangers that could possibly come it’s hard for residents to feel safe.

“We are looking at several different designs for this roadway which would include a concrete barrier between the lanes, or a grass median,” said Story.

“To have one of the most dangerous Toll Roads in Texas, crossing right there by all the school traffic in the morning and evening, doesn’t make any sense to any of the public,” said Cagle.

THE UNKNOWN

With construction on this project set for 2022, some residents say it’s the uncertainty that scares them the most.

“I know they say that they haven’t chose the route, so they don’t want to get a lot of people upset because it may not be in their area, but it is impacting people with the unknown, “explained Robert Wilson, “the unknown is what drives the uncertainty. It makes people think, do I need to sell my house.”

Whether you’re for or against the adjusted teal route, both sides believe they are being misunderstood.

“One of the greatest misconceptions with Toll 49 segment six is that the NET RMA and it’s study team already has chosen which of the routes we’ll move forward. I would very much like to say that is not true,” said Story.

The next step in the project is an environmental study. The findings of the study plus public input will determine one single route, that will then be sent to TX Dot in Austin, Texas.

According to Story, it will be TXDOT’s job to decide whether or not the project will move forward, and if they approve it will NET RMA’s job to vote to move the project forward.

“I think the biggest misconception that they feel like the public doesn’t want the route coming close to them, however, it’s these major safety concerns,” said Wilson.

As the project is looking to break ground in 2022.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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