ABILENE, Texas - Signs reducing the speed limit from 75 mph to 65 mph on a dangerous stretch of Interstate 20 at Ranger Hill were installed Thursday after a state commission voted to do so.
In addition to lowering the speed limit, the Texas Transportation Commission approved a plan to spend $3.2 million to raise barriers, add lighting and resurface the stretch of I-20 where accidents regularly occur and, in several cases, have even resulted in death.
Ranger Hill is about eight miles east of the city of Ranger and approximately 73 miles east of Abilene.
The stretch of I-20 is considered the most dangerous section of I-20 between Abilene and Fort Worth.
According to a Texas Department of Transportation news release, a total of 127 crashes have occurred in that section of I-20 since 2008, resulting in seven fatalities – all occurring this year.
TxDOT said the four 2013 crashes included "a three-vehicle collision in January, which resulted in the death of a pedestrian. During Memorial Day weekend, an eight-vehicle crash resulted in four fatalities after an 18-wheeler crashed through a concrete barrier and crossed into opposing traffic. The most recent fatalities occurred Oct. 14 and Oct. 15, in which a four-vehicle crash resulted in one death followed by a two-vehicle crash resulting in another."
"I just called our Eastland office and they told me that the 65 mph speed limit signs were installed about half an hour ago, so that speed limit is enforceable immediately," TxDOT spokeswoman Darah Waldrip said in an email at about 1:15 p.m. Thursday.
The following press release was sent out by TxDOT just before 4 p.m. Thursday:
MORE THAN $3 MILLION IN FUNDING APPROVED TO IMPROVE SAFETY ON STRETCH OF I-20
Roadway improvements to help save more lives in Eastland County
AUSTIN — Taking measures to address safety concerns on a stretch of I-20 in Eastland County, the Texas Transportation Commission today approved $3.2 million in funding to upgrade and modify portions of the highway known as Ranger Hill. Along with the addition of safety lighting and the resurfacing of pavement and markings, the project will include construction of a new 54-inch-high concrete median barrier to help prevent vehicles from crossing into opposing traffic. The commission also today approved lowering the speed limit from 75 mph to 65 mph along this stretch of highway.
"This stretch of highway has seen an increase in crashes and fatalities, so we're hopeful these upgrades and improvements will save lives," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. "As Texas roads become more heavily traveled due to a growing population, we must exercise due diligence in addressing their ability to safely accommodate more drivers and their passengers."
Since 2008, there have been 127 total crashes in this area resulting in seven fatalities – all of which occurred this year. The four 2013 crashes included a three-vehicle collision in January, which resulted in the death of a pedestrian. During Memorial Day weekend, an eight-vehicle crash resulted in four fatalities after an 18-wheeler crashed through a concrete barrier and crossed into opposing traffic. The most recent fatalities occurred Oct. 14 and Oct. 15, in which a four-vehicle crash resulted in one death followed by a two-vehicle crash resulting in another.
"I appreciate the TxDOT staff and commissioners who listened to our concerns and agreed to make these critical safety improvements to Ranger Hill," said state Rep. Jim Keffer. "I have no doubt that lives will be saved by this action."
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