WAXAHACHIE — Driving into Waxahachie from the north along US Highway 77, motorists will notice a total of four "No U-turn" signs on the stretch of roadway between the Interstate-35 off-ramp and the viaduct south of downtown. Those driving from the south will notice the same number of signs installed on the stretch of roadway by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
Despite the lack of signage at intersections along the route, a U-turn in the Waxahachie business district is still illegal, said Waxahachie Police Lt. Mike Lewis, a shift commander in the patrol division.
The ordinance is not newly adopted and was put in place "well before" the curbs or medians were installed, Lewis added. He also referenced Sec. 32-187 of the City of Waxahachie Code of Ordinances, which states "the driver of any vehicle shall not turn such vehicle so as to proceed in the opposite direction upon any street in a business district or at any intersection controlled by traffic lights."
According to the Waxahachie Municipal Court, a violator faces a $182 fine for making an illegal U-turn.
"It is just one of those kinds of safety ordinances. We had a problem for a while when the Life High School on North 77 was new in dealing with traffic from all of those cars coming out in the afternoon and that were forced to go south on 77 so that it didn't get backed up," Lewis said. "Well, it got to the point to where those cars would go south for a couple hundred feet and then bust a U-turn on 77, which is also a safety violation. So we've had to start enforcing the ordinance there more. We have also started putting off-duty officers out there to control the traffic at all times. But the ordinance itself has been in place for a long time."
Currently, signs are located in four areas of US 77.
The first sign motorists entering the city from the north will notice is on the newly installed stoplight at the intersection of Marketplace Boulevard in front of Buffalo Wild Wings. Not only is this sign the only one installed north of US 287, but it is also the only one of the four that can be found at an intersection, as the other three are on center medians.
The second follows a "No Left Turn" sign between Wal-Mart and Taco Cabana. The next is between H-E-B and Sleep Experts, with the fourth positioned in front of Aldi. There is no sign at the Northgate Center intersection in front of Applebee's, which is an intersection that Lewis said is where the majority of accidents occur from illegal U-turns
Lewis noted the lack of signage has been a "real back and forth" conversation with TxDOT since the first signs were installed on the medians Oct. 21, 2015. He also explained that U-turns are illegal on any roadway inside city limits zoned for business.
"It is their roadway and it is their traffic control devices, so they would have to be the ones to put the signs up. We are trying to get signage at every intersection, but right now we only have signage at about half of them. We have also seen an increase in crashes at some of those intersections from people making U-turns right there at the lights," Lewis said. "[...] We are trying to get TxDOT to mark them all because it is a safety thing and we are seeing more crashes because of it."
In a Daily Light article published Oct. 22, 2015, Waxahachie City Manager Paul Stevens also noted that signs have to be installed by TxDOT and the original plan was to have the "No U-Turn" signs placed along the medians. However, over a year passed before the first sign was ever installed, as the article also notes the medians were put in place Aug. 2014.
"The locations where they put them were actually in the original TxDOT plan (for the medians) to put 'No U-turn' signs there. They were not done initially and we did ask them about it a while back. So they did go ahead and put those up," stated Stevens in the article. "They were also considering all of the intersections and the traffic lights, putting them there as well, but that decision has not been made yet."
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith