The gateposts are in place, but it will be at least Tuesday before county crews close Double E Ranch Road and begin necessary repairs, County Commissioner Lester Gibson said Wednesday.
Work on the posts Wednesday angered at least one former resident of Mount Carmel, who worried that she would no longer have access to the road or the charred Branch Davidian compound to which it leads.
The compound, she said, will be the site of a memorial service Saturday.
Double E Ranch Road will be closed for two to six weeks during the work, Gibson said. Locked gates at each end of the road will keep out traffic so crews can make repairs without battling sightseers.
Crews have had access to the road only twice since Feb. 28, when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had a shootout with the Branch Davidians at the compound.
During the crews’ visits, they placed gravel on the road.
Gibson said, “I have no option but to do maintenance on the road, but I cannot give it the attention it needs with the amount of traffic that is on the road.”
However, Catherine Matteson, a Mount Carmel resident for 25 years who left before the shootout, said she is concerned about Branch Davidians’ access to personal items left at the compound, which burned down April 19.
Matteson has been making trips with others named in a court order filed by Branch Davidian attorney Gary Coker that allows them access to the property.
She said she first heard about the gates from a woman who made a trip to the site Wednesday.
“I don’t like the idea of a gate on either end,” she said. “We’ll take that gate down one way or another.”
However, she said, her greatest concern was about a memorial service planned for noon Saturday. Participants plan to meet at the Waco Convention Center and drive to the site.
“If they’re trying to make a good image for themselves, they better start now,” Matteson said, referring to local officials.
Gibson said the construction will not interfere with the service because the gates will not be in place until Tuesday at the earliest.
He also said those named in the court order would likely have access to the road during repairs.
Local residents living along the road will have a key to the gates.
“It’s not like it’s a big interstate or a farm to market road,” he said. “I can’t get my crews out there with all the traffic.”
Gibson said he will submit an order Tuesday to the McLennan County Commissioner’s Court asking that the roads be declared a no-stopping zone to prevent passers-by from stopping.