A section of US Highway 90 close to Valentine piloted work zone.
Photo by Lisa Morton
By Lisa Morton
Valentine Mayor Jesus (Chuy) Calderon opened the Public Hearing portion of the regular meeting of the Valentine City Council to Texas Department of Transportation, (TxDOT), Engineer Chris Webber and David Luz this past Wednesday. Mr. Webber was there to provide the public with information on the hazardous road conditions in a 26-mile stretch of Highway 90, with Valentine being located pretty much in the middle of it.
Mr. Webber’s beginning statements included an open apology to the residents of Valentine and all those traveling the hazardous road. He began to describe the effects that led up to the condition of the road to date and how his department has struggled to secure approval for the project during the past 2 years. The last complete reconstruction of Highway 90 was more than 50 years ago, and the progressive deterioration of the road, especially with the recent unusual wet weather, has resulted in close to 500 temporary patchwork projects in an attempt to slow the destruction– a process TxDOT calls “throw and go”.
Valentine Radio and The Advocate reported a one vehicle roll-over accident on the hazardous road just a few weeks ago where a vehicle swerved to avoid a large pothole, flipping the unit and ejecting one person.
With about 25 people in attendance including Jeff Davis County Judge Jeannette Duer and Valentine ISD Superintendant Debbie Engle, the question and answer portion of the hearing yielded evident frustration with how the process was being handled and with other hazards developing. Dean Alexander, an area resident, asked if TxDOT would consider restriping the sections of patched roadway that are particularly dangerous at night. Mrs. Alexander also had concerns about the semi-trucks traveling on the highway. Mr. Webber addressed each questions and took all remarks into consideration before giving the group his personal cell phone number so that communication about any hazards or concerns during the projected 9 month reconstruction can be handled directly through him. A particularly insightful piece of advice from Mr. Webber was for travelers to use their hazard lights on the piloted sections of the road zones to avoid inattentive drivers running up on these areas too fast.
TxDOT will begin a change order work process this Monday with additional work to the highway. More information and public concerns can be addressed at the next soon to be scheduled Pre-construction Meeting with the project contractor, Dan Williams Company. Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 20th, beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the Valentine Convention Center.