Stop light

TxDOT needs to step up and help with US 79 traffic at new school

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks since the Rockdale ISD opened what are essentially two new schools. School district patrons have been feeling pride and awe as they see the beautiful new structures.

Of course there are speed bumps to be expected when something like this takes place on such a grand scale. The most obvious one is the traffic situation on US 79 at the new intermediate school.

School officials have always sought a full- blown traffic light at the intersection. They've been in contact with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for many months seeking such a signal.

Instead TxDOT installed a pair of roadside school zone signs designed to slow down US 79 traffic with flashing amber lights at certain times and days.

One of the lights did not function on the first day of school, a software problem. Traffic was a mess. The next day the lights went on and didn't go off for many hours.

The roadside caution signs help but it's become obvious what is needed is what was originally sought, a way to bring traffic to a full-blown stop twice a day. Vehicles turning left across the highway, or back onto it, don't need to be put in the position of taking a chance on highway traffic.

TxDOT has certainly been advised of the situation and, in the nature of the way agencies work, has informed the district the first step which needs to be taken is a traffic survey.

There have been many traffic surveys taken in that area by TxDOT well documenting it is used by tens of thousands of vehicles daily.

In fact those are the surveys TxDOT cited when it determined a US 79 loop around Rockdale was warranted, a project that's now on hold indefinitely.

The intersection needs a stop light, period. The Rockdale ISD has done everything in its power to make traffic access safe to the new school. But this is not the RISD's call, it's in the hands of the state.

Does TxDOT have any business more pressing than taking every step possible to be sure students and parents have the safest access imaginable to their school campuses?

Rockdale doesn't need any surveys, town hall meetings, lectures by engineers or opinions by designers.

We need a stop light at the new school. Now.—M.B.

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2009-09-03 digital edition

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