Drivers notice a big difference between state highways that are free and toll roads, but something may be done soon to alleviate the problems. (Published Friday, Feb 8, 2013)
The Texas Department of Transportation is working to improve the roadway conditions on a state road that runs along the George Bush Turnpike in Irving.
State Highway 161 runs only three and a half miles before turning into the George Bush Turnpike, a toll road. The state highway was built before the continuation of road became a toll road and sits between Belt Line Road and Airport Freeway.
The differences between the two roadways are evident.
The George Bush Turnpike has three main lanes in each direction with bright lights, fresh lane stripes and many reflectors to guide drivers. The North Texas Tollway Authority maintains the George Bush Turnpike with commuters paying tolls to use the stretch of road.
It’s a big contrast to state-funded highway 161, which has two main lanes in each direction with faded lane markers and very little lighting.
“Yes it is a contrast,” said Michelle Releford, a Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson. “Of course we’re state funded, and federally funded and we have a tight budget. But we don’t let anything fall below standards where anybody’s safety would be seriously impaired because safety is our first priority.”
Releford said The North Texas Tollway Authority standards include “redundancy” that is not required by state rules.
She encouraged drivers to report problems they see on state roads because TxDOT can’t inspect every state highway regularly.
“We really rely on the public letting us know when there is an issue,” she said.
Irving resident Frankie Orozco drives each day on the road way from his home near the state section of 161 and then on the Turnpike to his job in Frisco.
“It’s scary, it is. It’s kind of scary to drive right there,” said Frankie Orozco who regularly commutes to work on the highway. “I feel that if I’m a driver, I’m paying taxes, doing all that stuff, I feel that they should be able to paint that as well.”
TxDOT is aware of the need to replace the state Highway 161 lane markers and reflective buttons.
“This thing has been noticed and it was just a matter of getting the weather to cooperate so we could get the contactor out there,” Releford said.
Workers are set to restripe the lanes next week.