Broken traffic lights at busy thruway in Belton continue to cause rush-hour delays as drivers anticipate repairs

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 12:33 PM CST
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - A busy intersection in Belton has gotten busier for about a week as congestion continues to back up after a crash damaged the signal controller cabinet and wiring underground.

“It’s pretty extensive, and that’s why TxDOT’s contractor is working as quickly as possible to perform those repairs needed,” Jake Smith, the TxDOT Public Information Officer for the Waco District, Jake Smith, said.

Michelle Moore said she started noticing the lights blinking off and on over the past month at the intersections of FM 93 and I-35 Frontage Rd., but she said it stayed blinking red since early last week.

Moore commutes to and from work driving through this intersection. She said the average commute is usually around 10 minutes or less, but, when the light started blinking, it took her over 20 minutes or more to get there.

Moore and many other drivers called the city, saying some of their drives quadrupled in commute times, and asking the city to repair it. However, the city cannot make the repairs since it is on the state road.

“Those are all managed by TxDOT,” Paul Bynum, Director of Communications for Belton, said. “We don’t have any jurisdiction. We can’t fix the problem.”

The lights are on state roads; therefore, TxDOT manages them. TxDOT told KWTX the light started blinking when a vehicle crashed into the traffic signal cabinet.

Smith said the crash caused damages to wires underneath the ground, and, while they made temporary repairs, it did not last.

As the city continues to receive calls and messages from frustrated Belton drivers, they are trying to make residents aware of the possible delays via social media, traffic signs and recommending drivers use alternative routes.

“This is the first time that we’ve had a stoplight out for more than a day, really, so, this is really unusual, and it’s frustrating for a lot of people,” Romer said. “That’s a major thoroughfare 93 into Belton, and a lot of people access the freeway from that route.”

Romer said residents asked the city to send police officers to the intersections to make traffic flow smoother, and Romer said this would be dangerous for the officers and also extremely hard for officers to coordinate traffic at both connecting traffic signals.

However, Moore is concerned the lack of repairs for the traffic lights is putting drivers in a dangerous situation as the intersection is known for heavy traffic.

To avoid the traffic, Moore said her and her coworkers started leaving earlier to get to work on time, but she said there is a short window in order to bypass that traffic.

Belton drivers are approaching another week of delays, and TxDOT says it get worse before it gets better.

“Motorists can expect not only for the flashing red operation, but intermittent lane closures in the intersection as well,” Smith said. “That will help the crew members be able to work safely in that intersection. TxDOT with its contractor are working as quickly as possible to get the repairs needed, and that process will begin this week and work throughout the week.”

Smith did not have an exact date for when the light will be fixed. He said he will provide updates when they become available.

The city asks drivers to take other routes to work or school until the light is fixed. They also ask drivers to treat the light as a four-way stop.

Romer said the intersection does not get congested outside of commute times in the morning and evening.