The gates went up Monday at both ends of Double EE Ranch Road as county workers prepare to rebuild a road ruined by federal tanks in the standoff with Branch Davidians in the Mount Carmel compound.
Despite the barriers, sightseers continue to trickle in and out on foot, seeking to view the site of the 51-day siege that ended in an April 19 inferno. To get around the barrier Monday, they were making a half-mile hike from the road’s intersection with Elk Road to the driveway of the former Branch Davidian stronghold.
McLennan County Commissioner Lester Gibson said even that foot traffic will be stopped when heavy equipment starts the repair work. The road is scheduled to be shut down until Aug. 23.
“Our intent is to create a safe environment to do repair work,” said Gibson, whose Precinct 2 includes the cult standoff site. “Tomorrow or the next day, when we put that heavy equipment in there, that’s going to create a hazardous place to be. That’s why we had to block that off, and they cannot be allowed in there.”
Gibson said the road will be returned to its original condition — paved just past the point where the driveway from the Mount Carmel compound joined the road. He said all the money for the restoration work is coming out of his Precinct 2 road budget.
After Double EE Ranch Road is reopened, Gibson said the county will turn its attention to Elk Road, the extension of FM 2491 that runs south of the compound. Heavy use by tanks and armored vehicles during the siege chewed up the asphalt along that road, leaving potholes, dips and valleys in the road surface.
Gibson also said a public hearing to consider a traffic ordinance in the area is scheduled for a July 26 commissioners meeting. The ordinance would ban stopping, standing or parking along Double EE Ranch Road or along Elk Road from its intersection with Double EE Ranch Road to the old Cotton Belt railroad crossing about a mile east.