ETX man whose brother died on Toll 49 speaks about safety upgrades

(Source: KLTV News Staff)
(Source: KLTV News Staff)

HENDERSON, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas man, whose brother died in a wreck on Toll 49 in Smith County, is speaking out about the recent safety improvements made on the road.

In May of 2016, Skylar Harper died in a head-on collision on the toll road. Since then, his brother Weston Harper has been pushing the board which oversees it to make safety upgrades. He's attended past meetings and offered suggestions in writing.

"I told the board members that if you guys would make this a safe road I would be the first advocate to say the road is a viable route of transportation," says Harper.

Chris Miller, Executive Director for the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA), says with Harper's comments taken into consideration, several improvements have been made to Toll 49 since 2016.

"His comments did reflect on some of the things we did definitely," says Harper. "I thank him for continuing to take an interest in our road and communicating those concerns."

Rumble strips, passing lanes, and wider medians with reflectors have recently been added to Toll 49 as a part of the improvement project.

At a board meeting on May 8, Harper commended the board on their progress and voiced his concerns about the speed limit.

"I would hope that the board would be mindful in watching in the days and months to come," says Harper. "If they see an uptick in catastrophes, maybe they would consider lowering that speed limit to 65."

Harper says even with the upgrades he's hoping drivers will be mindful of the dangers and choose to travel at a reasonable speed.

The NET RMA board says the safety upgrades will already be included along Toll 49's extension into Lindale when it opens early next year.

Read More: Family of man killed on Toll 49 says safety upgrades are not enough

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