Posted: Feb 5, 2013 6:00 PM
Updated: Feb 5, 2013 11:49 PM
CAMERON COUNTY - State crews will make some improvements to a road southeast of the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport after numerous complaints from local residents.
Residents living near FM 1419 said a curve on the road is too dangerous. A suspected drunk driver veered off the pavement and crashed into a house in December.
Texas Department of Transportation officials said they will make some improvements, but insist that the road is safe.
Residents in the area disagree. They call the stretch of pavement the death road.
"The house is right here. Just waiting for someone to crash into it," a local resident said showing the house where the suspected drunk driver crashed.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS aired a story on the accident and the road's conditions. A day later, TxDOT crews were dispatched to the area to cut any brush that impeded visibility of the signage near the curve.
The new project calls for the installation of reflectors on the side of the road. The agency will not install guardrails or additional signage.
"The road is perfectly safe," TxDOT Engineer Pete Alvarez said. He said the road does not need guardrails.
TxDOT uses a complex formula involving speed and angles to decide which roads get guardrails.
"In all reality, the reflective pavement markers ... those aren't needed either because the safety striping is adequate, the current markers in the middle of the road are adequate, we're just trying to enhance the area," Alvarez said.
Antonio Reyes said he doesn't need a formula to know that the curve in front of his home is not safe. He relies on experience.
"It's a death road," Reyes said.
"Watching someone else die ... I have to see the body just to see if the person is still alive," he said.
"That we are aware of, that I am aware of, I have not seen a fatality in at least the last three to five years," Alvarez said.
A check of Texas Department of Public Safety records revealed there were two fatalities at the curve in the past two years - one in April 2011 and another on May 2012. Both happened in Reyes' front yard.
"Waking up and seeing them dead. I think there should be a guardrail," Reyes said.
Each accident report states that the driver failed to negotiate what Reyes calls the death curve.
Alvarez said the road is safe as long as drivers follow basic safety rules.