TXDOT to boost Spur speed limit, Deathramp 527 danger

Remember when Spur 527 began to re-open in phases, and immediately people began complaining about the dangerous new entrance ramp from Milam to the Spur (and on to the Southwest Freeway)?

Some of us named it Deathramp 527 because of the poor design.

TXDOT's designated spinner Janelle Gbur immediately pointed out there was nothing to worry about:

TxDOT will monitor the site for problems and verify that it complies with required design standards, Gbur said. "But it is not our practice to start piling on modifications within a couple of days after opening a new facility," she said.

Gbur added that project engineer Quincy Allen inspected the ramp and agreed that because the spur has been raised about 9 feet and has higher guardrails than before, it lacks the visibility that drivers are used to on entrance ramps.

Gbur disagreed that there is no merge lane. She said a "reasonable" distance is allowed for entering traffic to merge."But because of the limited visibility, motorists may feel they have no time at all," she said.

They feel they have no time at all because... they really do have very little time! It's a dangerous entrance ramp, with a design that is really inexcusable in new construction.

A few days after Gbur's spinning, project engineer Quincy Allen offered these solutions to what is a terribly flawed design for expensive new freeway construction:

Quincy Allen is the TXDOT Project engineer for the Spur 527.

In the 10 days the ramp has been open he has heard the complaints, which was enough to get him to reevaluate.

"Some folks it appeared that you had to make an immediate merge. So we put the stripe there to improve that merge," he said.

It's a 100-foot stripe aimed at aiming drivers in the right direction.

"It's really difficult to figure out where you are going anymore," said one driver.

But the biggest problem says TXDOT isn't the signs, or the paint, or the wall, but drivers who are already on the spur.

"Looking at this it looks maybe like a freeway. But the speed limit on the spur in this location is 35 miles an hour."

Well, it's been a little over two months since that bit of rhetoric designed to pass off blame to speeders for a poorly designed entrance ramp, and guess what TXDOT is now proposing for the Spur -- increasing the speed limit! Rad Sallee reports:

The 35-mph limit was just for the construction period and new signs should be posted this week, said Quincy Allen, TxDOT engineer on the project. The initial plan was to set a 45-mph limit where the spur lanes exit onto Brazos and Bagby and a 55-mph limit elsewhere, Allen said, but that will be lowered to 50 mph for safety.

"It will probably help the (southbound entrance) ramp from Milam function better," Allen said.

TxDOT has already lengthened the ramp's short merge lane and reducing speeds on the spur, even a little, should make the merge safer, he said.

Umm, increasing the speed from 35 mph -- which Allen claimed motorists were already ignoring and thereby making the Deathramp 527 merge more dangerous -- to 45/50 mph isn't "reducing speeds" but increasing them!

Quincy Allen and Janelle Gbur need to go into politics. They have mastered the art of misleading the public in a way that doesn't feel exactly like lying. That's talent.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 06/03/06 08:39 PM | Print |

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