TROY, Texas — Troy-area drivers told 6 News the Loves Blvd. and I-35 access road intersection is the most dangerous in the whole city. As of May 2020, the intersection had seen 17 crashes over 15 months. None of those had been fatal, but tow truck driver Mathew Jarma told 6 News he worried it was only a matter of time.
"I don't know to do other than maybe put in a traffic light to stop traffic altogether," Jarma said on May 14. "Eventually someone is going to lose their life in that intersection. That's the bottom line."
Then, on May 31 at 10:55 p.m., that "eventually" became a reality.
Raiden Garcia, 18, died in an accident in the same intersection. Police said the accident was one of three that occurred after 6 News ran stories in May.
Earlier in May, City Administrator Jeff Straub and Chef of Police Gary Smith said the city had discussed the issue with TxDOT a few months before, but did not know if any action was going to be taken.
When 6 News reached out to TxDOT the same week, a spokesman said TxDOT would conduct a sight-distance analysis in that area and will evaluate if further action is needed. The spokesman said on May 14 that the study would be done in a month's time.
Garcia's mother, Christine Mercer, told 6 News on June 1 that she wished something had been done sooner to make that intersection safer.
"Why do my kids have to die before you get out there and fix something?" Mercer asked. "He should be alive and here, right now. They're going to fix it now because I'm not going to let another parent bury their child because they can't put some blinking lights out there or something to tell them there is something at that intersection."
The tragedy of Garcia's death also got the attention of Texas State Representative Hugh Shine.
Shine toured the intersection on June 1 with local police and called TxDOT District Engineer Stanley Swiatek the same day. Shine told 6 News Monday that he told Swiatek the intersection needed to be an all-way stop due to the poor-cross traffic visibility. He said Swiatek was receptive.
"I made a personal assessment of what I saw, and then made the call to the district engineer, and made my position very clear what I thought should take place, to make it a three-way stop," Shine said. "The district engineer said I would be hearing back from him or someone on his staff shortly."
Finally, on Monday, 6 News asked TxDOT what progress had been made and whether those stop signs would be put in place or not. Late Monday afternoon, a TxDOT spokesperson said via email the study had been completed "recently" and a stop sign was determined to be the best choice.
"The promotion of safety is TxDOT’s primary mission. In late April, TxDOT began performing a thorough review of the I-35 and Loves Boulevard intersection after concerns were raised by the Troy community. At the time, TxDOT installed signage on Loves Boulevard warning that cross-traffic does not stop on the frontage road," TxDOT's statement said. "TxDOT engineers recently completed a review of intersection operations including an evaluation of crash data and sight-lines. Based on a review of this data, it was determined that installation of an all-way stop would be warranted. TxDOT is currently in the process of installing stop signs on the I-35 frontage road at Loves Boulevard, creating all-way stops on the northbound and southbound frontage roads. To perform this installation, TxDOT must complete various steps to ensure the safety of the traveling public. This includes prefacing the stop sign installation with public advisories and other actions that will allow a seamless transition into the newly configured intersection. The installation will be complete by the end of the month."
The Troy Police Department put out a temporary electronic sign after Garcia's death as well.
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