The roads of Collin County are an ever-changing landscape. In the last several years, there has been a serious uptick in population in the northern portions of the county. With that uptick comes a surge in construction of homes and roadways.
"With progress comes change," said Melissa Police Assistant Chief Roger Thornhill.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is working on a widening project on Highway 121. Large swaths of Highway 121 as it meets with Highway 5 have been under serious construction. This widening project forces a small portion of the Hwy 121 southbound lane into a two-way road in the town of Melissa.
TxDOT switched up the traffic pattern about two weeks ago, and the transition has not been easy. "There's been 8 crashes here in the last 2 weeks," said Thornhill.
Patti Gardner was involved in one of the eight crashes recorded in the area. Melissa police told WFAA that there was one fatality crash on Friday.
"I got disoriented on a road that I usually know. It's like, I was driving blind literally," said Gardner.
When WFAA met with Gardner, she had just come from the emergency room. Gardner said her only car was swiped by a truck. She surprisingly escaped the accident with minor bruises.
"They should have already done something way before my accident, and way before the fatality happened," said Gardner.
TxDOT said it has addressed safety. The following statement was sent to WFAA:
TxDOT’S contractor switched the traffic pattern on SH 121 at SH 5 two weeks ago, as part of the SH 121 widening project. Prior to the traffic switch, several detour signs and electronic message boards were placed to highlight the change. In addition, reduced speed limits were established throughout the construction zone.
TxDOT has since double-checked that the road is adequately striped and safety measures are in place.
TxDOT and its contractor are currently working with the Melissa Police Department to determine whether any additional steps can be taken to further highlight this change in the traffic pattern.
Construction should be complete by the end of 2018. Motorists should expect delays.
"Anytime they change a traffic patter, it's a problem," said Thornhill. It is a problem that may require an adjustment for all sides that use this road.