A slippery stretch of Lake Shore Drive was expected to remain closed through at least Friday morning after rainy conditions caused the city to close it Thursday.
Several times in the past week, the city has barricaded the hilly stretch of road between Mount Carmel and Bishop drives because of a history of rain-related collisions. Traffic on the road, which averages 10,000 cars a day, has been detoured through streets such as Bishop.
But the closures are just a quick fix while the city prepares to install more lasting safety measures, city Engineering Director Octavio Garza said.
“It’s a very short-term strategy until we get the right signage,” he said.
By early next week, Garza expects to have advisory signs on Lake Shore Drive warning drivers to take the curves at less than 30 mph, along with rented radar speed trailers that flash drivers’ actual speed.
“We’re going to relocate some signs and add new signs to warn motorists they need to slow down, because it’s dangerous if you don’t,” he said.
Engineers recently did a survey of the road and used instrumentation on a vehicle to determine how fast cars can safely drive on the sloping curve overlooking Lake Waco. Garza said 30 mph is the safe limit in good weather, but drivers should slow down further when the road is wet.
The research was part of an ongoing $510,000 engineering study for the segment, encompassing traffic safety, the view of the lake and the geological instability of the limestone-shale slope.
City officials said the closures are not because of fears about the instability, which is likely a longer-term problem.
Garza said closing the road for weather has a “huge impact” on city resources and shifts traffic to surrounding neighborhoods, so he hopes to get the signs up as soon as possible. He said the Lake Shore Drive study in coming months should result in more ideas of how to make the road safer.
City public information officer Larry Holze, who lives near Lake Waco and frequently uses the affected stretch of Lake Shore Drive, said the closures are inconvenient but necessary until the city can ensure a safer driving experience.
“It will save a lot of lives and property,” he said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”