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Residents concerned about safety at Salem and Loop 463

By Jessica Priest
April 18, 2013 at 8:05 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2013 at 11:19 p.m.


Sam Miles has lived in Victoria so long, he remembers when John Stockbauer Drive was just a bumpy gravel road.

So the 44-year-old Formosa plant worker was puzzled, he said, when the Texas Department of Transportation switched the Salem Road and Loop 463 intersection amid construction Tuesday.

That's when the agency erected a stop sign for cars coming off the feeder road.

Miles said the stop signs should have been placed instead on Salem Road, which posts an about 45 mph speed limit.

He and his wife frequently travel down Salem to go shopping, and earlier this week, she was almost struck in her Mitsubishi Endeavor. It's an SUV but is still no match for the 18-wheelers rolling around town.

"She slowed down, but they didn't," Miles said of how the truck drivers merely tapped on their breaks while traveling at about 55 mph.

He said drivers - old and young - may be confused by all the recent changes, and congestion often builds up during East High School's dismissal time.

"I don't know how it's going to work," Miles said. "Someone is going to get killed."

And someone already has - even with a stop sign on Salem Road.

On March 14, Barbara McCarn, 79, of Port Lavaca, died when the 2006 Cadillac she was traveling in with her husband Bobby McCarn, 78, was struck by a 2012 Cadillac CTS sedan traveling south on the frontage road off Zac Lentz Parkway.

Herschel Buck, traffic safety officer for the Victoria Police Department, said McCarn made a complete stop at the stop sign on intersecting Salem Road but failed to yield to the other vehicle traveling south.

Four people were sent to the hospital, according to earlier reports.

Mark Cross, a Texas Department of Transportation spokesman, was not aware Wednesday of any plans to erect another stop sign, but it could be a possibility, as there is still construction such as paving underway in the area for the next four weeks.

Cross urged concerned residents to contact the Victoria Division of TxDOT at 361-573-6681 with any complaints.

He said the agency might study the area and hold community meetings before changing anything, depending on the situation.

"We may not be able to satisfy it (the resident's complaint), but we will always look at it and address it in some way," Cross said.

Ray Coughenour, a retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers colonel, moved to Victoria a few months ago from The Valley.

He, too, said parts of the Loop are unsafe, pointing specifically to a crossover at the intersecting Airline Road, which he said should be closed off.

"I have seen construction workers standing in the roadway while traffic is flying by," Coughenour said about the overpass sites.

The newly built main lanes of the Loop opened to traffic Tuesday. Then, all frontage roads were normal except for the intersection at Salem Road. Salem Road drivers are different because they are allowed to travel through the frontage intersection without stopping.

During the next four weeks, there will be intermittent lane closures. Highway department signs and the Victoria Police Department will notify residents of those changes.

The $17 million Loop project was constructed by Hunter Industries over the past 20 months, according to a news release.

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