Pedestrians worry dangerous intersection won't improve after state grant is denied

Posted at 7:29 PM, Feb 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-11 20:42:06-05

Intersection issues are causing some worry for people in Waco.

Bob Singer is often on edge when he walks along 19th Street with his service animal each day.

"When I walk across the street, I'm scared," Singer said. "It's a big concern of mine that I'm going to get injured or my dog's going to get injured."

When he needs to pick up groceries from H-E-B, he can either cross at the intersection of Park Lake Drive and 19th Street or walk along the pedestrian crosswalk that's a few hundred feet back. 

He said drivers don't make either option look good.

"Running the red lights at 19th and Powell, running the red lights at 19th and Park Lake. Not being aware that there are pedestrians around them," Singer said. "There are times where I've had to drag the dog out of the way because cars are running the lights."

Singer said more sidewalks and signals would make things easier on him and his neighbors. Many of his neighbors are wheelchair-bound, so he said having more ramps would be good for them as well. 

Eric Gallt is the traffic engineering manager for the City of Waco. He said the city is aware of the dangers surrounding that intersection and plans on making the necessary changes.

"It's an area where we think we can make some improvements and make it safer for the public," Gallt said.

Gallt said they asked the state for help with the improvement project, but were denied grant funding in early January. Two other dangerous intersections did receive the funding.

"Part of that grant was actually adding a sidewalk to the southeast of this area and then connecting it with the intersection," Gallt said. "The other part is making accessible ramps in this corridor and improving pedestrian signals." 

Gallt said they now have to wait until next year to make room in their budget.

"We're working on finding the funding for that," Gallt said. "We were directed by the council not to wait for another grant cycle for this, but if this is a safety concern we need to try and address it as soon as possible."

Gallt said the improvements will cost the city about $250,000.

In the meantime, Singer will rely on the pedestrian crosswalk's yellow flashing lights and his own judgment to keep him safe.

"I hope the city will fund further studies and walk in my neighborhood with me to see the problem firsthand," Singer said. "And respond to these problems in a timely fashion before someone else gets killed or injured."

Gallt said there have been 13 recorded accidents at the intersection of 19th and Park Lake Drive in the last five years. He said the city believes the true number is closer to 15 since not all accidents are counted by the way TxDOT looks at an intersection. 

He said one of those unrecorded accidents involved a 63-year-old woman who died after being hit by a car while she was on her scooter in March of 2018. 

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