A busy intersection underwent upgrades to improve safety in a school zone.
The City of Hewitt, the Hewitt Police Department, Midway ISD and the Texas Department of Public Safety have been working together to make improvements to Panther Way and Hewitt Drive near Midway Middle School since an SUV hit a crossing guard in 2015.
"We've had a lot of concerns from citizens, parents who go to Midway. This is constantly on our radar. We want to make this a safe place for people to cross to go the school, for traffic turning in and out of Hewitt Drive," Hewitt Managing Director of Administration Katie Allgood said.
Kacy Baitz, who has a child attending Midway Middle School, said the area is congested when he drops off his student in the morning.
"It's not uncommon to be substantially backed up when all the parents are trying to get their kids out for the day," Baitz said.
Hewitt Police Chief James Devlin said the intersection has been a problem for years.
"It stacked up so high and went back so far, that people tried to beat the light in order to go the intersection," Devlin said.
The City of Hewitt paid for a $67,000 project to alleviate traffic congestion and keep pedestrians safe.
The west side of Panther Way now has three lanes of traffic, including a designated left turn only. One of the two lanes on the east side of Panther way will be for traffic turning left onto Hewitt Drive. The Texas Department of Transportation changed the traffic light pattern in the area after the lane configured.
Devlin said he has noticed an improvement since the project was completed last month.
"It seems to clear traffic out much quicker now but we haven't had a school day yet so we are going to see on the impact," Devlin said.
Midway ISD starts the school year on Aug. 21.
"People are trying to go different directions at the same time in that area. Additional lanes and better routing of the traffic will be helpful for us," Baitz said. "Hopefully anything that's done will help that staff and students go to wherever they are going as safely as possible."
The City of Hewitt said it will continue to look at ways to make the area safer.
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