Changes to Highway 385, Loop 338 Intersection Underway in Ector County

Changes to Highway 385, Loop 338 Intersection Underway in Ector County

Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Cars that have been used to zooming by on a stretch of Highway 385 will be surprised to find that'll be coming to a stop- literally. Because TXDOT has made the intersection of Highway 385 and North Loop 338 a four way stop.

It's not that that junction is in bad condition but TXDOT just wants to make it a smoother ride.

So a $3.1 million, multi-step project began Monday with the addition of stop signs. The more long term goal is to get rid of all the congestion so TXDOT will be adding traffic signals, turn lanes and even lighting up the roads.   

Then, the ultimate goal is to expand the highway by adding two more lanes to the Loop. But that's a separate project.

"We can't just go put up traffic signals anywhere we want. We have to have certain levels of traffic and accident history and other things. With this being two major roadways intersecting, it's a good place for a traffic signal," TXDOT Public Information Officer, Gene Powell, said.

Powell said that intersection isn't a common spot for accidents. In fact, he only remembers one fatal accident there in the past three or four years.  

"To be honest most of our roads don't have the same accident frequency that roads have in other parts of the state," he said.

But drivers who frequent that area aren't so sure.

Clayton Bendik, who lives at apartments right past the intersection on Highway 385, said he travels along the road all the time.

"Sometimes it can be dangerous. Not a lot of people pay attention when they're crossing that road," he said. 

"Everybody wants to go back and talk about roads but when you go back and look at the actual causes of the accident, the vast majority, almost 95 percent, it's driver error," Powell said.

Some people think the changes are going to add to people making bad decisions.

Marcos Salceo, who travels to Lubbock once a week, said he thinks the spot is better without stop signs, "seeing as how there's constant traffic going north and south from this highway," he said. "With stop signs, you're looking at more people not stopping or running stop lights."

The first wave of changes took place on Monday, and by late February, crews will start moving dirt for the rest. During that time, the speed limit in the work zone will drop to 60 miles per hour on Loop 338 and 65 miles per hour on Highway 385.

Powell said TXDOT wants to warn drivers. According to Powell, almost two thirds of all wrecks in work zones are rear-end collisions from people following to close, "so be patient, slow down, and obey the warning signs."