DALLAS — Imagine this commute: Taking Interstate 635 every day... all day long.
Grant Sedberry drives up and down the corridor of construction and destruction. Sedberry is one of nearly a dozen crew members whose full-time job is to help motorists who get stranded in the LBJ Freeway construction zone and really have nowhere to turn.
"We don’t have shoulders on the LBJ. We miss those greatly," explained Andy Rittler, the spokesman for the project.
In the absence of emergency lanes, a man was killed in February while trying to push his disabled automobile to an exit ramp.
LBJ project managers advise drivers, if possible, to get themselves to safety and forget about the car.
"If it gets hit, it gets hit," Rittler said.
If a stranded motorist is somewhat shielded from oncoming cars, though, you should stay in the vehicle and call for help.
Of course, even emergency responders may take a while to get to you as they inch through traffic, often encountering other problems along the way.
We recently rode along through bumper-to-bumper traffic with Grant Sedberry as he responded to an wreck.
"After this accident, there will be three or four people out of gas,” he observed, adding that other cars waiting in traffic will likely overheat and stall, and that secondary accidents are a real possibility, too.
As we rode with him, we witnessed as a police car responding to the original call bumped in to another car jamming the narrow roadway.
Clearly, a direct call to those nearby freeway helpers like Grant Sedberry could be a lifesaver. The catch is, you have to know their phone number — and you won't find it along the road.
We asked Rittler why no signs are posted alerting drivers to the help number. “We have so many signs on this corridor that it's almost prohibitive to be able to do that," he explained.
The result is that many who break down don't know the hotline number, which puts them (and everyone else) in a jam.
“These people — I am pretty sure they are upset because I am blocking the road, but the transmission went out and there is nothing I can do," explained one driver who had done his best to pull off LBJ but still caused a backup.
If you are involved in an accident or your vehicle stalls in the 635 construction zone, you should call 911.
But if you travel the roadway, you should also program into your mobile phone the number for the LBJ motorist assistance team, which is stationed just minutes away: 214-960-5711.