Fort Worth may ban trucks from left lane of I-30

| Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Fort Worth, TX, is considering a proposal that would ban trucks from the left lane of Interstate 30 in the city, The Fort Worth Star Telegram reported.

The city’s Police Department had planned to offer the proposal to the City Council Jan. 6.

Police officials told the paper that the plan was designed to save lives; however, truckers and highway engineers in the state told the newspaper it might not do so.

According to The Associated Press, a 1997 state law authorizes cities to restrict truckers from the fast lane of major highways during peak travel hours.

Houston was the first city in the state to implement the rule, acting in September 2000 to restrict lanes on an eight-mile stretch of I-10, roughly from I-610 to Sam Houston Parkway. Trucks were ordered to stay out of the far left lane from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, except when passing other vehicles.

A Texas Transportation Institute study conducted after Houston implemented the change found that accidents decreased 68 percent on that portion of I-10 over a nine-month period, with no deaths in the crashes that did occur. Houston officials then decided to expand the lane restrictions to portions of I-45 and State Highway 225.

However, highway experts have warned that the accident reductions may be more the result of more police on the highway and less due to the restriction, The Star Telegram reported.

"Load up the roadway with police officers, Mike Sims, a transportation planner with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said, “and watch the accident rate fall."

But despite those warnings, the left lane bans expanded. In the wake of the I-10 ban, a series of Houston suburbs worked together to add the restriction to Highway 255 through their communities. In March of 2003, La Porte became the final city to approve the restriction, which will run from inner Houston to the Gulf Coast.

If the Fort Worth City Council approves the left lane ban there, it could be in place in six months, The Star Telegram reported. Other nearby cities, such as Arlington, may then be asked whether they want to extend the ban to the portions of I-30 within their boundaries.

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