The city of Temple is urging motorists to be aware of the new traffic signal at the revamped intersection of Prairie View Road and State Highway 317.
The old intersection, several feet north, was regulated by flashing lights, but traffic patterns have changed with the road realignment to connect Prairie View Road with the entrance to the new Lake Belton High School, which opens in the fall.
Road safety was the main drive behind the change at the intersection, Temple spokeswoman Laurie Simmons said Wednesday.
“Two different intersections were reconfigured and combined into one signalized intersection, which is meant to increase safety for both drivers and future pedestrians coming to and from Lake Belton High School. We know drivers are still getting used to this new light, but the city is urging everyone to pay attention to the roadway in front of them and minimize distractions like cellphones while driving,” Simmons said.
The Morgan’s Point Resort Fire Department responded to two accident Jan. 15 at the new intersection.
No one was injured, although there was substantial damage to the vehicles involved.
At about 9:20 a.m., a white Chevy express van going south on SH 317 ran a red light and hit a silver Dodge Ram truck and trailer turning left from Prairie View onto 317. The driver said he got a phone call just before the crash. He looked down at his phone, then looked up and saw the red light and a truck and trailer in the intersection, Simmons said. The driver tried to avoid the truck but he hit the trailer and knocked it off the hitch.
The second accident happened just 12 minutes later after the first one. Someone who saw the first crash stopped their black Chevy SUV and pulled onto the shoulder to give a statement to the police, according to Simmons. Police were directing traffic through the intersection, but the driver of a white Toyota Tacoma clipped the SUV after it passed the crash scene.
Motorists have posted on Facebook about confusing orange traffic barriers, the shortness of the time between light changes and the drivers who cut through the road barriers. Some motorists — such as Sonny Woodruff — said they are happy to be able to turn left onto SH 317 without waiting so long during rush hour.