Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.
Editorial by Staff
UMHB’s main entrance, along with several others, lies on FM 317. The street cuts straight through Belton, leaving retail stores and restaurants in its wake.
The busy thoroughfare brings traffic, especially during peak hours from the town to the light at 6th Street, which leads to I-35.
During these busy travel times, students at UMHB must fight oncoming
traffic and the many turning motorists to get to and from campus.
Senior mass communication/ journalism and Spanish double major Crystal Donahue lives in the Huckins apartments, which are nearest to the intersections.
“I am shocked there haven’t been many accidents already,” she said. “There are many times I’ve pulled out of a parking lot thinking, ‘I’m not going to make it out.’”
Huckins residents often find a circle of three cars all turning in different directions and blocking each other from moving. Honks and tire squeals make the danger of the road evident even from inside the apartments.
Many think a street light at the 10th Street intersection would relieve the congestion and allow those turning to safely enter and exit campus without risking their lives pulling into chaotic traffic.
High school students visiting campus for the first time also would not receive their first impression of the university while waiting in a turning lane for a never ending stream of cars.
However, a light could also bring more danger to the area. The SH 317 bridge that passes over train tracks right before the school entrance limits drivers’ visibility. It was the same bridge where an elderly woman died in 2007, perhaps due in part to the low guardrails. Traffic speeding over the hill would not be able to see cars backed up waiting at the light.
Garrett Pekar, a sophomore mass communication/journalism major, does not want more lights in his commute.
“A light would stop the crosstraffic, but what happens when you are part of that traffic?” he said. “We, as students, drive on FM 317, too.”
“When I am at Wal-Mart and want to go to get something to eat across town, I don’t want another light to come between me and Whataburger,” Pekar said.
FM 317 is owned by Texas, and it’s the state’s responsibility to address the road’s problems. The only hope for change comes in communication among UMHB, the city and the state.
It is quite surprising and fortunate that there hasn’t been a tragic accident on the extremely dangerous intersection already. Sadly, it often takes a fatality to make people realize that something needs fixing.
This problem should be addressed soon, especially as both the community and the university are growing.