TxDOT explains why more accidents are happening in GO 10 construction zone
EL PASO, Texas —
Interstate 10 is one of the most heavily-used roadways in all of El Paso.
Jim Smith saw plenty of I-10 as a truck driver.
"Oh, with all of this construction, it's a pain,” Smith said. "Past downtown, going west, it's just bumper-to-bumper and you come to a dead stop a lot of the times."
It's not just the traffic that's got some of the drivers staying clear of the highway.
"I think it's dangerous,” Patricia Curry said. "I've actually been taking Rim Road down Alabama to get to the Northeast. So it's a little safer."
The section of I-10 between North Mesa Street and Executive Center Boulevard has seen more crashes in the last year and half than it has in the last four years.
In 2014, there were 56 crashes. That number jumped to 255 the next year when the project started.
Then, in 2016, there were 397 crashes. As of April 4, there have been 99 crashes this year.
District engineer Bob Bielek, with the Texas Department of Transportation,says there are many reason why crashes keep happening in this work zone.
"I can tell you for a fact that right out here it's because people are speeding through the work zone,” Bielek said. “They're trying to change lanes and weave in and out through the work zone."
The Texas Department of Public Safety says these actions are the opposite of what drivers should be doing.
“They need to be attentive. They need to slow down and just make sure they're aware of their surroundings," Lt. Elizabeth Carter, of the Department of Public Safety, said.
TxDOT changed the speed limits from 60 to 50 mph.
It was one of the ways to try and cut down on the number of crashes.
But, it seems, not a lot of people are following the rule.
"I have yet to pass anyone in this work zone going at 50," Bielek said.
For Smith, space is key.
"I see people driving bumper-to-bumper. That's crazy! They're going to end up in an accident,” Smith said.
For others, it's time.
"So I either travel very early or super late because just, like, from 3 to, like, 6, it's ridiculous,”Valeria Mora, of downtown El Paso, said.
"When you're behind the wheel, you're behind the wheel.” Curry said. “Pay attention."
The section in which crashes are on the rise is expected to be finished in mid-2019.
Until then, Bielek says, crashes will only go down if everyone on the road is more aware.
"It's a partnership between the contractors, TXDOT, law enforcement, but, mostly, the drivers,” Bielek said. “We want our people to go home safe at night and we'd like to see everyone who drives through here to go home safe as well.”