SMITH COUNTY - After multiple deaths on a portion of Toll 49 in Smith County, the director of the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA) announced they're making moves to improve safety. Concerns from drivers include a lack of passing lanes and hard-to-see medians.
In a multi-phase project, the first phase focuses on the stretch between I-20 and Highway 31, the portion most driven, according to NET RMA.
"Eventually what you'll have is a four foot wider road which will allow us to put a flushed center median line." said Chris Miller, director of NET RMA.
Miller said there won't be a physical barrier, but the median will be reflective, similar to a runway, and covered with rumble strips to alert drivers if they get too close.
Passing lanes will also be added.
"You've got some areas where people get antsy, and people want to pass that guy in front of them," Miller said. "They'll have that ability."
After losing a friend in an accident, Joe Smith of Whitehouse said it's about time for the changes.
"We lost one of our church members when he hydroplaned on it," he said.
Another East Texas driver, James Smith, said he drives the road nearly five times a week for work. He said he hopes these changes will save a life.
"We've had a lot of accidents and lot of deaths. It's about time they do something," he said.
Phase one for is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. The second phase of this project will start at the beginning of 2018.
Officials with the NET RMA said passing lanes more passing lanes will be added, extending to Whitehouse.
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