Wrecks double in Fort Bend Co. during highway construction

Fort Bend County drivers say Highway 59 South has turned into "demolition derby," and we've found out wrecks have more than doubled since the widening project began.

FORT BEND COUNTY, TEXAS - Fort Bend County drivers say the stretch of highway they depend on daily has turned into a “demolition derby” and is putting them at risk.

They’re referring to the construction that has taken over US 59.

A number of people blame Texas Department of Transportation’s widening project for the dangerous driving conditions.

KHOU 11 News has been digging back through years' worth of accidents to see if that’s accurate.

The statistics show the amount of wrecks that authorities have responded have more than doubled since construction began.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department and Rosenberg Police Department have responded to more than 187 crashes on US 59 this year.

Compare that to 79 crashes they responded to in all of 2014. The construction began that year in September.

“If you’re not paying attention for a quick glance, I’ve almost been swiped. People are honking at me all the time because I try to go slow,” said driver Rene Ruiz.

It looks like one of the biggest trouble spots in the construction zone is US 59 near FM 762.

Sixty-six of this year’s wrecks have happened there. Twenty-nine of the crashes at FM 762 have been caused by “failure to control speed."

An investigator told KHOU 11 News that he won’t use the entrance ramp at that location because of how dangerous it is.

Just last week, a woman was taken to the hospital by Life Flight after she crashed into a big rig near FM 762.

“It’s crazy man. These people, I don’t know where they learned how to drive,” said driver Mark Fusina.

Drivers complain how narrow the roadway is. They point out the short distance drivers have to get on and off the highway.

TxDOT expects the construction to linger on through at least early 2019. It impacts a 10-mile stretch from Spur 10 in Fort Bend County to County Road 227 in Wharton County.

A spokeswoman said the speed limit has been reduced to 55 mph.

She said TxDOT addressed the merge distance back in June after a number of complaints.

According to TxDOT, the merge area at FM 762 was made to be longer for motorists. 

TxDOT released the following statement:

“We are now currently in the process of improving the area even further.  We actually accelerated construction so that we could build the bridge and temporary pavement in the area in order to improve the merge area even more.

Once the traffic plans have been approved, we will pull the entrance from where it is currently and keep traffic on the frontage road longer and have them merge in further down I-69/US 59.  

We understand the impact that construction of this magnitude can have on the traveling public and will continue to diligently ensure that the safety of the traveling public remain our top priority.”

(© 2016 KHOU)


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