A new center turn lane will make it easier for patrons of Jack Allen’s Kitchen and Sonic Drive-In to enter and exit from SH-71 West near the ‘Y’.
by Bobbie Jean Sawyer
TxDOT has announced plans to renovate a notoriously dangerous stretch of SH-71 west of the ‘Y’ in Oak Hill. The area is from Southwest Parkway to Scenic Brook, where there is no center turn lane—an area that has seen new businesses, more turn-in traffic, and more accidents in recent years.
“TxDOT is planning to take bids on work to add a center turn lane and eight-foot shoulders on SH-71 from near Silvermine Drive to past Thomas Springs Road,” said TxDOT spokesperson Chris Bishop. “The $13.5 million contract should go out for bids in November.” Construction is slated for January 2014.
This segment is part of a larger project to widen and rebuild SH 71 from Southwest Parkway to Scenic Brook, according to TxDOT, and has been divided into three segments of construction:
From Southwest Parkway to Thomas Springs Rd.: add shoulders and small median to separate traffic.
From Thomas Springs Rd. to Covered Bridge Dr.: add shoulders and center turn lane.
And from Covered Bridge Dr. to Scenic Brook Dr.: add shoulders and center turn lane.
TxDOT said the project has a very strict timeline with incentives and penalties based on the contractor’s performance. The plan at this point is to restrict the construction activities to one segment before disturbing the next one. The overall project is to be completed in March of 2015.
Bishop said the improvements would increase safety for traffic turning off of SH-71. “The improvements will give turning traffic a safe haven from through travelers and provide a place for disabled vehicles to pull out of the way as well,” Bishop said.
This is welcome news for Crystal Bomer, who lives on SH-71 and has long called for a center turn lane.
“Whenever we come home from town we have to turn left into our driveway. We used to have a neighbor that also used our driveway and they had two different daughters get rear ended trying to turn into the driveway,” Bomer said.
Bomer said she’s witnessed several accidents from her home and even fears turning into her drive.
“Every time that we’re turning into our driveway we have to literally stare into our rear view mirror while watching oncoming traffic at the same time to make sure that we don’t get rear ended,” Bomer said. “There have been multiple times that we have had to accelerate to keep from being rear ended. People aren’t expecting you to be stopped there.”
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