Lockhart motorist killed in traffic collision
By Wesley Gardner
A Lockhart resident was killed on Saturday after her vehicle was struck from behind by a truck on U.S. 183 while she slowed to turn off the highway onto Old Luling Road.
Texas Department of Public Safety Sergeant Deon Cockrell confirmed 69-year-old Jay Fortman was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to Cockrell, a Ford F250 was traveling behind Fortman as they were driving southbound on U.S. 183. Fortman’s SUV was then struck from behind by the truck when she slowed down to turn off the highway.
Cockrell said charges are still pending against the driver of the truck, noting further information would likely be available later in the week.
The area in question has been a point of concern for Lockhart motorists due to the 65 mile-per-hour speed limit and lack of turning lanes.
Two weeks ago, Lockhart City Councilmembers discussed implementing safety measures outside of the Summerside Subdivision, which is located less than a mile from Old Luling Road and similarly requires southbound drivers to turn left off the highway.
Lockhart Public Works Director Sean Kelley said he worked the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to try to reduce the speed limit 45 but TxDOT engineers declined the request after conducting a traffic study that suggested the 20-mile-per-hour reduction wasn’t warranted.
Lockhart Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez said she’d spoken with several residents who expressed concern about the area.
“I respect where TxDOT is coming from, but my concern is the safety of the citizens,” said Gonzales-Sanchez. “I’m not saying they’re not looking that, but it is a concern.”
Kelley noted a request sent by the city to reduce the speed limit to 55 on U.S. 183 for an additional three-tenths of a mile was on the Texas Transportation Commission’s meeting agenda. TxDOT Area Engineer Diane Schulze confirmed that the requested change was on the Texas Transportation Commission’s agenda last week, noting the agency is currently waiting on the signed minute order.
The Lockhart City Council also recently authorized the purchase of solar radar feedback signs that will be placed in view of drivers traveling both northbound and southbound on U.S. 183 showing them the posted speed limit and reminding them to slow down.
Officials said one will be placed 1,000 feet north of Tractor Supply, and the other, visible to motorists entering town, will be placed 500 feet south at the intersection of Summerside Avenue and U.S. 183.
Officials noted the city has also worked with Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative to upgrade the lighting near the intersection. In addition, the Lockhart Police Department has increased its presence in the area in an effort to reduce speeding and crashes.