One of the changes planned to make State Highway 11 west of Sulphur Springs safer went into effect Tuesday with the lowering of the speed limit from 65 miles per hour to 60 mph.
State highway officials decided to make the move earlier this year after a lengthy meeting in January with residents living along SH 11 who complained conditions on the road had made it dangerous.
Lowering the speed limit was one of the first recommendations made by Carlos Lopez, director of the Texas Department of Transportation’s traffic operations division, who studied low-cost changes that could be implemented quickly to improve safety.
Lopez has also recommended the installation of “profile pavement markers” — those strips on the edge of interstate highways that make a rumbling sound when run over — on the outside edge of the road to warn motorists when they get too close to running off the road.
Ruts on the side of the road, which can violently twist the tires of vehicles that go off the edge of the highway, are also being fixed.
The SH 11 residens called for shoulders to be added to the road, and they are getting part of their wish. In February, the state highway department approved $7 million in funding for improvements on SH 11 west. The work includes the reconstruction of 3.4 miles of SH 11 between Ridgeway and Sulphur Springs, and realigning that part of the highway to accommodate two 12-foot lanes — each with 10-foot wide paved shoulders — and a right turn lane at County Road 4738. The project should be ready for bids by July.
Officials with the Paris District of TxDoT — which includes Hopkins County — hope to make more improvements on other sections of SH 11 west when funding becomes available.
Another speed limit change to improve safety is expected to be implemented later this year south of Sulphur Springs.
Following the January meeting, another public discussion session was held in February to discuss similar problems on State Highway 154 south. Lopez again studied quick, low-cost improvements to enhance safety, and suggested lowering the speed limits on SH 154.
Residents who live on SH 154 aired similar complaints to those voiced by their counterparts on SH 11 west. Paris District Engineer Bobby Littlefield told those attending the meeting that his office is already working on solutions to those safety issues.
The work on SH 11 would not have been possible at such an early time without funding from the federal economic stimulus plan. But because that extra money frees up needed funding, the improvements to SH 154 can begin sooner than originally expected
“My staff is working diligently to accelerate the SH 11 project to be ready for bids in July. We can then start focusing on the SH 154 project,” said Littlefield, a native of Sulphur Springs. “We have listened to the people’s concerns and we are responding quickly.”
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