'Dirt ramps' a driving hazard

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

SHERMAN, TX -- When there's a traffic delay sometimes it seems easier to just drive off the shoulder onto the access road instead of waiting. Officials say you may want to think twice.

The man-made ramps are so well-traveled there are ruts in the ground from years of use. TX-DOT officials say they would like to make an off ramp. So far, they've lacked the money to do it.

It seems so tempting to take the dirt path off US 75 to Fallon Dr. The dirt is well-worn and shows many cars drive over the same stretch of road.

"The highway is there for a reason. They're designed for safety and it's against the law to cut across that median," says Kevin Harris, engineer for TX-DOT.

Police say they have patrolled this spot for years, naming it the "dirt ramp.” They ticket drivers they catch making their own exits. It's hazardous as cars slow down from the 70-mile-an-hour speed limit to take the dirt exit.

"When they actually do take the exit, it's not built as a line of sight to seeing oncoming traffic on the on the access road. It could result in severe collisions there," says Cpl. Brad Gibson, over the traffic division of the Sherman Police Department.

Harris says TX-DOT conducted a study on 75 between highway 82 and FM 691 and found exit ramps would improve traffic flow. They are waiting for approval for the project. The challenge though, is finding funding to pay for the project.

"We are working with SEDCO, the city of Sherman, the developer to try and find a partnership there," Harris say.

The public is apparently using this as a make-shift exit ramp already, but TX-DOT says their plans would make it safer and easier to travel.

"We would like to see those ramps go into Fallon Drive, see the Fallon Drive bridge widened out to give more access to that whole area there."

That would leave off-roading to a weekend hobby and not a practice on a major US highway.

TX-DOT took billion dollar budget cut for projects in North Texas for 2008, so when they say budgeting is a problem, they mean it.

In the meantime, they say to remember you're putting yourself in danger when you leave the pavement.

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