KLTV Investigates The Effects Of Center-Lane Medians

Center medians are now in place along South Broadway in Tyler, and a lot of drivers are complaining. From having to make a U-turn to bottlenecks at stop lights, the medians can be a pain. But do medians really help stop crashes. KLTV 7's Morgan Palmer looks at statistics from another busy stretch of Tyler roadway, and the numbers may surprise you.

"From right here in lunchtime, you have to go all the way across to turn around, and there's a chance of getting hit," one frustrated driver told us.  Drivers take that chance every time they drive in the worsening Tyler traffic.

The center medians installed three years ago were TxDOT's solution to serious crashes that kept on and on. The kinds of crashes and the severity can't be put into numbers. What can be seen is just how many wrecks we've had on the stretch of the Loop between Highway 155 and Broadway (Highway 69).

In 2000, before medians, there were 127 crashes.

In 2003, 137.

So far this year, there have already been 112, which is a pace to nearly 170 by the end of this year.

Tyler Police Officer Don Martin says volume is a factor: "There is a lot more traffic in Tyler now especially during the work hours."

That's also a factor. More drivers on that stretch of the Loop every year. Around 35,000 a day to around 43,000 today. Nearly 20 percent more.

Just like the new medians on Broadway, those on the loop are dodged by drivers trying to shoot across the road, or turn around.

"I've already seen people in large vehicles, that get stuck trying to make a U-turn. They've got to stop and back up across these lanes, and that is definitely dangerous," says another driver. 

"The main focus with the medians is the reduction of head ons and "T-bone" style crashes you have on an open center lane like what we used to have," says Larry Krantz of the Texas Department of Transportation.

Krantz says the crashes are at slower speeds and are not as costly. But for drivers who run the maze every day, there's still a lot of street stress.

"It is hard when you try to get across to go to a store and then you have to make a u-turn and then that's dangerous," a driver tells us.

TxDOT says they have no plans to prohibit U-turns at certain intersections on Loop 323 or South Broadway. They say, though, they've been looking forward at the traffic volume projections and say the Loop could see at least 15 percent more traffic within the next ten years.