Relatives of wreck victim voice concerns about safety of a segment of Toll Road 49



HENDERSON - The widow and brother of a man killed in a collision on Toll Road 49 said Tuesday that a segment of the road is unsafe and dangerous.

Loni Harper, widow of Skyler Harper, 34, who was killed a half-mile south of U.S. Highway 64 on Toll Road 49, told the board of directors for North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority that the woman who hit her husband was confused because she didn’t understand the road. The wreck happened at 10 p.m. May 7.

The woman passed a slow-moving semi truck in a no-passing zone and hit Skyler Harper head-on.

“It’s a road where you have to be extremely defensive. For any driver, it can be very confusing because there are not enough safety precautions, especially in that stretch of highway,” Loni Harper said.,

“I would like for them to put barrier poles in the middle of the (two-lane) road. Rubble strips would be helpful or extend the road so that there’s more passing lanes that people cannot pass where it’s a no passing line,” she said. “That stretch of highway is very dangerous and something needs to be done so no more lives are lost.”

Weston Harper, brother of the accident victim, suggested the board consider adding barriers to prevent people from entering the no-passing areas.

“In the no passing areas of Toll 49, if they would just put traffic channeling poles in the center line that protrude up from the ground about four feet, it would give people a visual barrier to see that they can’t pass in that section.”

The section where the accident occurred is Segment 3A south of Highway 64 and north of State Highway 155 up to State Highway 31.

Everett Owen, Toll 49 project director for NET RMA, said the agency is planning additional passing lanes the whole length of the highway, scheduled for early next year.

Of six accidents on the total 26-mile toll road, four have occurred in the segment that the Harpers voiced concern about, according to Owen.

He could not say why most accidents have been in that stretch, but said most of the accidents were attributable to driver error, either distractions, heavy rain or inattention.

“We don’t know of anything in the way the road is built or designed or anything that’s contributing to the accidents,” Owen said. The same design standards were used on all of the facilities, he said.

NET RMA has met with the Texas Department of Transportation about planned improvements along the whole length of Toll 49, Owen said, including rumble strips, additional passing lanes and additional reflectors both in the center of the road and on the side of the road.

“We asked if there’s anything else we can do that would promote safety, and so far, nobody has come up with any additional measures,” Owen said. “It’s so unfortunate accidents happen.”

Twitter: @Betty_TMT














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