2018-01-10 / Front Page

Dangerous S-curve west of Raymondville to be eliminated by TxDOT

BY ALLEN ESSEX
Reporter


THIS 18-WHEEL TRACTOR TRAILER RIG tipped over southbound on the edge of I-69E about 3 a.m. Sunday near La Quinta Inns & Suites, said Raymondville Police Cpl. Alonso Gonzalez. By late Sunday morning, a wrecker service had tipped it back to an upright position. There were no injuries and no other vehicles were damaged. 
(Photo by Steve Lopez) THIS 18-WHEEL TRACTOR TRAILER RIG tipped over southbound on the edge of I-69E about 3 a.m. Sunday near La Quinta Inns & Suites, said Raymondville Police Cpl. Alonso Gonzalez. By late Sunday morning, a wrecker service had tipped it back to an upright position. There were no injuries and no other vehicles were damaged. (Photo by Steve Lopez) A deadly S-curve on Highway 186 west of Raymondville city limits will be eliminated by a new project that will straighten the road and add periodic passing lanes, a Texas Department of Transportation spokesman said.

Four family members died in a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler truck on Christmas Eve 2016 and many other wrecks and near-misses have occurred on the S-curve in the past few years.

After the December 2016 wreck, TxDOT put up marker lights and reflectors, as well as repaving the road, were attempts to reduce the danger.

The victims of the accident who died in 2016 were Luis R Cantu, 34; his wife, Elizabeth Murad, 37; and their children, Delroy Cantu, 14; and Luis R. Cantu, 8.

But now a project to straighten the road, plus add alternating passing lanes and paved shoulders all the way from I-69E (U.S.77 Expressway) to I-69E (U.S. 281) has been put on the front burner, said TxDOT spokesman Octavio Saenz.

Originally, the project was scheduled to be let for bids in 2019 with the first part in Hidalgo County to go out for bids in 2017 and the second part in Willacy County in 2019, but now the Willacy County portion is on a fast track to be put out for bids and construction started in 2018, Saenz said.

Highway 186 will be upgraded to a “Super 2” roadway, which will be more capable of handling the heavy truck traffic it carries.

The method has been successful in other parts of Texas where high-traffic two-lane highways needed upgrading, he said. The “periodic passing lanes” should eliminate the need for traditional passing in which passing vehicles face oncoming traffic.

Weslaco truck driver Antonio Quintero-Valdez Jr., 38, was cited with four counts of criminal negligent homicide. Quintero-Valdez and Quintero Trucking were later targeted by two lawsuits seeking damages because of the accident.

People who live in the area of the S-curve said last year the improvements TxDOT made after the accident were inadequate.

Quintero-Valdez will be arraigned on the four counts of criminal negligent homicide on January 17. Two lawsuits have been consolidated into one lawsuit and they are still pending.

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