Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson Gene Powell knows the Odessa District can’t engineer away every incident.
However, the public information officer for the Odessa District believes the additional funding received this year can help make the roads in West Texas safer.
On Thursday, the TxDOT Odessa District announces it received more than $91 million in funding for overpasses and safety projects that could begin in late 2019.
“With the increase in traffic and driver behavior being what it is, this is a really positive step for the Odessa District to be able to implement these changes,” Powell said. “Safety is always our top priority. This funding helps us continue that mission.”
One project that would impact the residents of Odessa and Midland is a center median barrier to be installed on Highway 191 between East Loop 338 in Ector County and West Loop 250 in Midland County. That center median barrier is expected to cost $2.3 million.
Powell said the barrier could minimize vehicles from jumping the median and colliding with oncoming traffic. Powell said with a significant increase in incidents for the Odessa District, more funds for the Highway Safety Improvement Program became available.
“If somebody does lose control and enters the median, we can stop them from entering oncoming traffic and that’s something that we’ve seen quite a bit of lately, especially on 191,” Powell said.
The Highway Safety Improvement Program will also install traffic signals and lighting at various locations and intersections.
The three parts of the funding are Texas’ Systemic Median Barriers program, U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Transportation grant and Highway Safety Improvement Program.
Powell said the funds from the Systemic Median Barriers program exceeded his expectations at $51.66 million. BUILD Transportation grant was $25 million, while Highway Safety Improvement Program totaled $14.7 million.
Odessa District’s largest project — in terms of monetary value and distance — is 92.7 miles of concrete barrier on Interstate 20 from Farm to Market Road 1053 in Ector County to Interstate 10 in Reeves County. That project is valued at $37.3 million.
There will also be cable barriers installed in five other locations with a total distance of 56.1 miles and $14.4 million.
A BUILD Transportation grant of $25 million will pay for an overpass on Highway 302 and Highway 115 in Kermit. Powell said the overpasses could immediately reduce the number of incidents.
“We know when we can separate traffic at intersections that’s always a positive because you have fewer conflict points,” Powell said. “We got the BUILD grant and another overpass in Andrews County as well. Those are real positives.”
ODESSA DISTRICT PROJECTS
- 92.7 miles of concrete barrier on Interstate 20 from Farm to Market 1053 in Ector County to Interstate 10 in Reeves County ($37.3 million)
- 29.2 miles of cable barrier on U.S. Highway 385 in Ector and Andrews counties from near Southeast Avenue E in Andrews to the Yukon Road area in Ector County ($5.9 million)
- 12 miles of cable barrier on Business Interstate 20 in Ector and Midland counties from East Loop 338 to West Loop 250 ($2.4 million)
- 7.3 miles of cable barrier on Loop 338 in Ector County from near U.S. Highway 385 to near Highway 191 ($2.7 million)
- 4 miles of cable barrier on West Loop 338 from near Yukon to near 16th Street ($2.7 million)
- Overpass at Highway 302 and Highway 115 in Kermit ($25 million)
- Overpass at Highway 158 and Highway 137 west of Garden City ($25 million)
- Overpass at Highway 115 and FM 181 in Andrews County ($8.5 million)
- Center median barrier on Highway 191 from East Loop 338 in Ector County to West Loop 250 in Midland County ($2.3 million)