Big Changes Coming to Dangerous Stretch Where Teen Brothers Were Killed

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Big changes are in the works for a stretch of road that has been dangerous for drivers in Denton.

There have been several crashes along Hickory Creek Road, including one crash that killed two teenaged brothers.

The winding rural road running alongside a portion of Hickory Creek in southern Denton has seen its share of growth and crashes in recent years.

The city has registered 20 crashes since 2016, including one fatality.

This is where brothers Diego and Daniel Rivera were killed in January 2019. Authorities found their car submerged in Hickory Creek the morning after they were reported missing.

Family told NBC 5 they were on their way back to school to retrieve a watch left behind.

The driver, 17-year-old Diego, lost control and went over the embankment, claiming his life and the life of his 14-year-old brother Daniel.

“We had many dreams ahead,” said their mother Elizabeth Rivera on Friday. “I always remember them how they were, very happy.”

In the days and weeks following the tragic accident, the city of Denton made some immediate changes to the stretch of road, including adding streetlights, “adding guardrails, adding some lane markers, improving striping, working closely with Denton County to make those improvements immediately because we understood the gravity of the situation,” said Rachel Wood, city of Denton deputy director of capital projects.

A widening capital project had already been in the works before the crash, she said.

The city is wrapping up design work to straighten out Hickory Creek Road’s 90-degree curve.

Crews will also build a four-lane elevated bridge from Riverpass Drive to just before FM 1830 with 10-foot sidewalks and streetlights, said Wood.

The project has taken another step forward this week to acquire property to expand the roadway.

The city council has also given the go-ahead for Wood and the department to seek appraisals on private property needed for the widening project.

“The intent of this project really is to straighten out that roadway, accommodate the growth, improve safety and ultimately take the road out of the flood plain,” said Wood.

The city will soon approach landowners with ‘market value’ offers to buy some of their property.

The process could be subject to eminent domain.

“We would then proceed, only if absolutely necessary, with eminent domain so that we don’t slow down the progress of constructing this roadway project,” said Wood.

Asked if the city has experienced pushback from affected property owners so far, Wood responded: “I haven’t received any pushback. It’s just been more questions and ultimately property owners wanting to make sure that they are maximizing what they’re able to receive as a result of the high growth that’s happening in this area.”

River says the proposed changes are ‘positive,’ but she says they are changes that could have been done earlier.

“It’s always after something happens that we find a way to fix a problem,” she said. “I pray that there are no additional crashes there and more lighting is added.”

There are about 771 single-family residential units planned or currently under construction near Hickory Creek Road, according to the city.

“The road is currently undersized to accommodate the growth that we’re projecting,” said Wood.

Funding for phase 3 of the project comes from a 2019 bond program as well as $10 million from toll revenue from the North Texas Council of Governments, according to Wood.

The city expects to select a construction contractor around spring of 2022. The project is expected to take two years.

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