Residents of the Midland Odessa region of West Texas have good reason to be stressed on their daily commute: since 2009, the area has seen a 157% increase in traffic fatalities attributed mainly to the rapid expansion of the oil industry with no transportation infrastructure to support it. A lack of funding for necessary road improvements is certainly to blame for these frightening numbers, officials say.
Initially, the state proposed an overpass at one particular Odessa junction. At East Yukon Road and State Loop 338, the Odessa overpass would help reduce the number of deaths that the junction has seen within the past five years, not to mention reduce traffic congestion and improve safety. The overpass is only a single part of a project expected to cost approximately $500 million to complete, but no funding has been secured for this project.
While driver error, speeding, and other factors come into play in any car accident, Ector County Judge Susan Redford, chairwoman of the Midland Odessa Transportation Organization board, believes that the shocking death rate the region has seen in recent years is a testament to the need for investment in West Texas’s transportation infrastructure. The oil field boom has brought an influx of workers into the region, clogging up the roadways with massive semi-trucks and increasing the potential for deadly collisions.
The poor condition of Odessa’s roads is reflected not only in its accident statistics, but it has an impact on a global scale, as well: The United States was ranked 16th in the world for the quality of roads and highways.
Simply put, people are dying from a lack of funding to improve the area’s roadways. The average daily vehicle count on our roads is increasing, and heavy trucks with new or improperly trained drivers come barreling through junctions all the time.
Even in 2011, when the oil and drilling boom was in its infancy, the Texas Transportation Commission advised the state that it would need additional revenue to accommodate expected spending needs. Texans pay no income tax and less in transportation fees than 43 other states.
Odessa Midland residents deserve to have faith in the safety of their roads, but as many victims of truck accidents in the area realize, this notion is idealistic compared to the reality that exists today. If you or someone you love was injured or killed in a collision with a truck, tractor-trailer or semi, you have legal rights.