If you've driven down Valley View Lane and Interstate 635, you may have seen Debbie Dahl hunched over a cross bearing her husband's picture and name.
She is a regular every Friday and usually comes alone. "I feel closer to him here than I do at DFW National Cemetery," she said.
Her husband, Mark Dahl, a 19-year veteran with Irving Police, was riding his motorcycle to work on Aug.12, 2016 when he hit the curb at the intersection and died. For an entire year, Debbie talked with anyone who would listen: city, state, lawmakers, Texas Department of Transportation, even the governor. She wanted to have that curb removed.
"I was a mom and a wife and that is all I ever wanted to be. And when my husband was taken from me, I had nothing else to fight for," she said.
After fighting for so long, she got a call last week from TxDOT. It was a call she always hoped for but never expected.
"I was shocked that they were getting rid of it because they told me it wouldn't happen," she said. The call was from a spokesperson for TxDOT, and she was being told that the curb would be removed.
TxDOT made many changes to the lane. Valley View Lane is a multi-lane road moving in both directions. The right lane turns into a right turn only. If drivers miss that, they end up running into a curb. It had put in cones, tried yellow reflective paint, pylons, and even more signage.
TxDOT says it was a second review that led to the change. The following statement was sent to WFAA regarding the intersection:
"Our sympathies are with Mrs. Dahl and her family. Every fatal crash is reviewed by TxDOT to evaluate roadway factors that may have contributed to the crash, and that occurred shortly after Officer Dahl's crash.""When concerns about the intersection were brought to our attention last year by Mrs. Dahl, TxDOT further reviewed the signs and pavement markings. While the intersection design met standards, the department also added reflective pylons and also provided additional signs and pavement markings to reduce the potential uncertainty for drivers approaching the intersection. After reviewing the intersection again recently, the additional pavement markings have enhanced the operations of the intersection, allowing the department to move forward with removing the raised pavement."
This September would have been their 29th anniversary, and Mark would have been retired by now. Still grieving, Debbie found purpose in this fight and now the strength for another.
"I want the state of Texas to have a helmet law," she said. That will be her new mission. Mark was not wearing a helmet that day, and Debbie believes he would still be alive if he were wearing a helmet that morning.
"Having it removed does feel like somewhat of a victory, but a painful victory," she said.