McLennan County commissioners voted Tuesday to close the county road nearest the site of the former Branch Davidian compound for repairs and to consider ordinances to keep sightseers from clogging roads in the area.
“Vehicular traffic is stopping, standing and parking on Double EE Ranch Road,” Commissioner Lester Gibson, whose precinct includes the Mount Carmel site, told his fellow commissioners. “In my opinion, this is clearly dangerous to others using the road.”
Commissioners approved putting up locked gates at the north and south ends of the road and closing it off from Monday to Aug. 23.
Keys will be provided to landowners, emergency personnel, the McLennan County Sheriff’s office and an attorney for the Branch Davidians who remain in the area and still claim title to the 77-acre site.
Double EE Ranch Road is the one onto which the driveway to Mount Carmel opens. It was the road federal agents took in their ill-fated Feb. 28 raid, and the road most torn up by armored vehicles during the 51-day siege that ended April 19 with Mount Carmel going up in flames.
The road has become the favorite of sightseers who go to see the site.
Gibson said the road will be opened again in August, but he urged the court to adopt an ordinance prohibiting stopping or standing along the road and along Elk Road, the extension of FM 2491 that runs south of the Branch Davidian property.
Commissioners agreed to begin the process of public hearings to enact such an ordinance.
Gary Coker, attorney for the Branch Davidians who remain in the area, said his clients are in favor of the actions.
“You’re not going to be able to stop the tourist traffic completely, but to restrict it and stop people from getting out of their cars and roaming around about the property, then I think that benefits everybody,” Coker said.
Gibson also urged fellow commissioners to ask the federal government for the money to upgrade both Double EE Ranch Road and Elk Road.