Dallas traffic study draft suggests major changes to slow speedy drivers on Ferguson Road – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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results about Dallas traffic study draft suggests major changes to slow speedy drivers on Ferguson Road – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
As part of our ongoing series “Driven to Death,” NBC 5 Investigates obtained a draft of a taxpayer-funded traffic study that showed traffic engineers hired by the city of Dallas suggested dozens of potential safety improvements along Ferguson Road, including a major redesign of the street to discourage high speeds.
The draft report, which NBC 5 Investigates obtained from a source, even suggested reducing the number of traffic lanes from six lanes to four lanes on portions of Ferguson to physically calm traffic speeds, creating a narrower roadway that might force drivers to slow down.
It’s a concept that some residents in far East Dallas said they have been hoping for as they search for ways to address a street that they said has become a virtual speedway with a history of serious injury and fatal crashes.
But will the city make the changes suggested in the consultant’s draft report?
Vikki Martin leads the Ferguson Road Initiative and told NBC 5 Investigates the group is concerned about safety on the six-lane East Dallas artery running between Interstate 30 and Interstate 635.
Martin said drivers running red lights and speeding are a constant threat to pedestrians and cyclists, combined with a lack of safe places for pedestrians to cross.
NBC 5 Investigates visited the area and spotted many intersections with no crosswalks or with faded paint where crosswalks once existed. In other cases, NBC 5 found some of the connecting streets didn’t have sidewalks, offering pedestrians a safe place to walk.
“We’re in the street and there is no shoulder,” Martin said. “There’s nothing safe here. You have children and families that go to our White Rock Hills Library and there’s no safe way for them to get there if they’re pedestrians.”
Data from the Texas Department of Transportation showed that in five years there were at least 230 crashes along Ferguson Road involving at least 26 serious injuries and six deaths.
One victim was a 73-year-old woman who was out walking her dog and was killed when she was hit by a driver that police said was drag racing.
During NBC 5 Investigates’ short tour of the area, we witnessed a cyclist trying to cross the street as a driver ran a red light and the aftermath of a crash where the driver of an SUV hit a light pole in a narrow median and became stuck on top of the pole’s concrete base. Police said another driver turned into the SUV, forcing it into the median.
Martin said the old concrete light bases are a roadside hazard up and down Ferguson and that they should be replaced with modern poles that flex and breakaway, reducing the risk of serious injury.
“I don’t understand why they don’t just go ahead, remove the base, and make it like this one that’s flush to the ground,” Martin said.
But even more than that, Martin said she wanted to see the street redesigned in a way that would calm speeds.
“My opinion … is that you’ve got to change the configuration of the street. You can’t expect law enforcement to have these enforcement controls at every corner. They can’t be everywhere,” Martin said.
In a video meeting Martin’s Ferguson Road Initiative organized in February 2022, Dallas City Transportation Director Gus Khankarli told residents the city would conduct a study to see what could be done to address high speeds and crashes along Ferguson.
“The primary goal of the study is to investigate the present traffic safety and operational conditions along Ferguson Road and recommend strategies and improvements,” Khankarli said in the video.
That was almost two years ago, leaving Martin wondering what’s happened since.
“I’ve been waiting for a report on the calming study, the traffic calming study,” said Martin.
NBC 5 Investigates has learned the study has been completed but that it has not yet been shared publicly. The report lays out dozens of potential improvements like installing new crosswalks and new updated traffic signals. The report also recommends redesigning portions of the road to “reduce excessive speeds.”
The study even suggests “reducing (the) existing roadway from six-lane divided to four-lane divided…” which is a strategy road safety experts said could slow traffic and improve visibility.
That’s exactly the fix that Martin was hoping to see.
“The way Ferguson Road was constructed initially is antiquated today. It doesn’t fit the neighborhood,” Martin said.
NBC 5 Investigates reached out to Khankarli to ask if the city will implement any of the study’s recommendations. Through a spokesperson, Khankarli denied our request for an interview and said he didn’t want to speak publicly until he’s had a chance to brief the Dallas City Council on the status of the city’s Vision Zero crash reduction program.
Some council members requested that briefing in December after our reporting raised questions about the slow progress of the program in recent years.
“Too much time. Way too much time. And I think it’s a matter of having the right champions,” said Dallas City Councilwoman Jaynie Schultz in a December interview.
In a statement, Khankarli told NBC 5 Investigates the study was still a draft and was being reviewed.
“As noted, the (Ferguson) study is still in draft form. We are currently evaluating the draft, will make recommendations, and anticipate public outreach as part of the process,” Khankarli said.
As NBC5 Investigates reported Wednesday, the study also included a recommendation to install a PHB (pedestrian hybrid beacon) or a stoplight at the intersection Ferguson & Materhorn Drive in order to better protect pedestrians. At that location NBC 5 saw Dallas ISD students dodging cars, even running to get across the street, at a location that had no crosswalk. The city recently painted a crosswalk at that intersection weeks after NBC 5 reported on the dangers and the school district and neighbors complained to the city.
All along the fast-moving Ferguson Road corridor, some are hoping for quicker changes and slower traffic.
“I think there have got to be ways that traffic can be slowed physically,” Martin said.
Speed Related Crashes on Ferguson Road between IH30 and IH635
Using data from the Texas Department of Transportation, NBC 5 Investigates mapped every speed-related crash on Ferguson Road between IH30 and IH635. TxDOT captures data from Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Reports (CR-3). TxDOT requires law enforcement to report “Any crash involving a motor vehicle in transport that occurs or originates on a traffic way, results in injury to or death of any person, or damage to the property of any one person to the apparent extent of $1,000.” The data compiled in this map is from Jan. 1, 2019 through Oct. 20, 2023.
Meanwhile, NBC 5 Investigates was also sent photos of a recent crash where a driver was injured after hitting a concrete light pole base along Ferguson Road and rolling over. NBC 5 Investigates has not yet been able to obtain a police report on that crash to learn what happened.
NBC 5 Investigates has also learned Oncor, the power company, owns and maintains those concrete streetlight bases. An Oncor spokesperson told NBC 5 in a statement that they have been in communication with the city to consider replacement or other options.
The city said it was coordinating with Oncor but provided no timetable for a resolution.
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