Smith County Official Defends Controversial New Stop Signs

The new stop signs don't seem to be slowing down traffic on Old Omen Road.

"If there's a speeding problem then enforcement is what's necessary," said David Bailey, concerned driver.

"People are probably doing 60 or 70 down here through this intersection," said Cindy Hatfield, nearby resident.

"My wife and I have both nearly been hit twice from people running the stop signs," said Bill O'Neal, concerned driver.

A dangerous situation. That's exactly why Smith County Commissioner Bill McGinnis said they installed the signs.

"One time when I pulled out, I was surprised by a large truck coming over the hill at a high speed. It was a dangerous situation and the county was responding to people who were having difficulty getting out onto traffic," McGinnis said.

The Smith County Road and Bridge Department said the Commissioners Court approved the new signs on December 17th.

Nearby residents said the signs went up with hardly any notice to them. Now that they are up, many would like to see some flashing lights or at least some markings on the road to help prevent potential accidents.

"It's very confusing," said Hatfield.  "There seems to be a lot of hand signaling going on."

"They have some small warning signs, but people are so used to driving out here without them a lot of people aren't paying any attention," said O'Neal.

Commissioner McGinnis said the county did not do a traffic study, mainly because there's no county engineer right now.

"An engineering study is not mandated and we did not do one on that intersection," said McGinnis.  "When we get a county engineer on-board I'd be happy have that new engineer and I intend to have that county engineer look at it. If there's a better way of doing, I'm all for it."

County officials add taking the law in your own hands and pulling the signs down is the worst thing to do, as it will only confuse drivers even more.

"I just would ask that the folks out there bear with us and try to get used to them," said McGinnis.

"Until folks can get used to them, they definitely create a more dangerous situation," said O'Neal.

"Nobody knows whether to come or go.  They need to study it," said Hatfield.

Commissioner McGinnis said they do plan on adding road markings at those stop signs. If someone is caught vandalizing the signs, he said they will be prosecuted and face several charges.

Courtney Lane, Reporting