TxDOT looks to improve traffic and safety on Interstate 20 - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

TxDOT looks to improve traffic and safety on Interstate 20

I-20 traffic. Source: KLTV Staff. I-20 traffic. Source: KLTV Staff.
SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Safety and traffic flow on Interstate 20 are serious concerns for travelers, and they're problems that TxDOT says are only going to get worse as the population continues to grow.

Elected officials from Dallas to the Louisiana state line are prioritizing the problems that need fixing first. An 18-month I-20 corridor study is supposed to help TxDOT decide what projects are the most urgent.

Traffic, backed up for miles, is a problem that's all too common on I-20 and often, it's due to wrecks. On Monday, a backup in Gregg County was caused by one crash that quickly turned into two. Of all of the East Texas counties, Smith County tops the region when it comes to interstate wrecks.

"Primarily because there's a lot of congestion around Smith County and that portion of the corridor, but also because of the rolling terrain, not wide enough lanes and things of that nature," explains Smith County Judge Joel  Baker.

TxDOT broke down the number of East Texas crashes along I-20 between 2008 and 2012:

Smith County: 2,061
Gregg County: 1,529
Harrison County: 1,035
Van Zandt County: 941

"Safety improvements are a big issue," says  Marc Williams, TxDot Director of Planning.

The issues are being addressed by nearly two dozen mayors, judges and directors who represent a 160 mile stretch of the highly traveled Interstate. In Tyler Wednesday, they were looking at their options to improve travel from Balch Springs to Waskom.

"Adding lanes to Interstate 20 or adding connections to our frontage roads... interchanges and the ramps that serve on and off traffic coming off Interstate 20 is also an important area of focus," says Williams.

In part of Smith County, TxDOT does plan to expand I-20 from four lanes to six lanes and add more frontage roads by 2035. In Gregg County, east of Highway 31, I-20 will be expanded to six lanes by 2030.

"But it's not on the books for another 20 years, so how do we speed that up because it's needed now," says Baker.

Members of the community have also suggested more rest areas, truck only lanes, additional lanes and more frontage roads, and community leaders are still asking for more input.

The I-20 corridor study will be finished in December. Then, TxDOT will decide which projects to fund first.

There's still time to add your two cents. If you'd like to send TxDOT comments about Interstate 20 improvements, click here.

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