TxDOT talks possible restrictions for trucks on I-40 in Amarillo - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

TxDOT talks possible restrictions for trucks on I-40 in Amarillo

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Truckers and other commercial vehicle drivers may soon be restricted to certain lanes of traffic on I-40 going through Amarillo.

The Texas Department of Transportation hosted a public hearing Thursday evening to talk about those proposed restrictions and get public feedback from the driver it would affect the most.

Although they're only simply proposed at this point, there was no shortage of opposition from local drivers during Thursday's hearing.

"Through traffic needs to be in the through lane," said one retired truck driver, Robert Johnson. "They have no business in the right lane."

But the right and center lanes are exactly where trucks and other vehicles with three or more axles might get stuck if TxDOT passes lane restrictions barring them from the inside left lane.

"It's not a complete ban," explained TxDOT Spokesperson Paul Braun. "Trucks using the center or right lanes may still use this left lane to pass. So they don't have to stay out completely."

After being implemented in places like Dallas, Austin and Houston, the agency has turned its eyes to Amarillo.

"TxDOT is taking a look at some of the urban areas around the state that qualify to see if maybe there would be a reduction of crashes if it was implemented here," added Braun.

But local truckers at Thursday's hearing felt it would do just the opposite, citing dangerous merging and exiting traffic in Amarillo.

"I think it will be a traffic impalement if you were to take those trucks out of the left hand lane," said local trucker, Chris Bonner. "You get those individuals who pull out on the highway going 10 miles an hour. We can't swerve to avoid you like you can a dog on the street."

"That's not a safe situation," continued Johnson.

Not safe, they believe, for anyone on the road.

"I'm worried about those people in the cars who've never been around a semi," said Bonner. "Who don't know they're grossing 80,000 pounds."

"But again, we need to wait and see what the studies show, see what the public says," said Braun. "Then it's up to the Transportation Commission."

The Amarillo District TxDOT office will take reports and comments from Thursday's meeting and present it to the Texas Transportation Commission to be reviewed  before any final decision to made. If the restrictions were to pass, they would apply to the stretch of I-40 from near Coulter Street to Pullman Road and would be effective 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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