TEMPLE -- A closed exit on the westbound side of Temple's SW H.K. Dodgen Loop is facing scrutiny for its potential impact on access to the city's hospital.
Since Tuesday, construction has shifted westbound traffic to share the eastbound lanes from the railroad bridge to the 5th Street overpass. Some drivers have since expressed concern the change increases the time it takes to reach nearby Scott & White Medical Center.
The hospital is the only Level One Trauma Center between Austin and Dallas and cares for most local critically injured patients. Driving in a news vehicle, Channel Six News Reporter Andrew Moore clocked two alternate routes as taking roughly seven extra minutes to reach the hospital -- which could be precious time for an ambulance in an emergency.
Baylor Scott & White said its hospitals are provided updates by TxDOT, and hospital officials go through that information with ambulance drivers, so EMS personnel are aware of the best routes. Emergency vehicles are also equipped with computer aided dispatch systems that keep track of road closures.
"Typically, we talk about those ahead of time, so [EMS workers] are thinking about that before the situation occurs," Scott and White EMS Operations Manager Chuck Pearson said.
But, the regular route may not return any time soon.
"The project is scheduled to be completed in 2018, so it is still going to be a while before we have a permanent intersection there," TxDot Waco District Spokesperson Ken Roberts said.