Loose Highway Gravel Damages Vehicles, Frustrates Residents

(Photo by Nick Delgado)
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LAMPASAS (June 11, 2014) Tons of loose gravel placed on U.S. Highway 190 in Lampasas County left vehicles with broken windshields, dents, and chipped paint.

The Texas Department of Transportation's Brownwood District is conducting an annual seal-coating project on 175 miles of roadway across nine counties.

The work was done last week in Lampasas, but officials said the heavy rain loosened the newly-laid gravel.

"It just seemed like they just went through it and didn't take a whole lot of time to make sure it was done right," said Lampasas resident Mitchell Taylor.

Taylor's pickup truck was damaged as he drove on the highway.

“(It) felt like I was driving on water, my (truck’s) rear-end was sliding all over on all the loose gravel," he said.

"Every time a car would pass gravel would get thrown up and hits the windshield, the hood, and just everywhere on the truck."

The gravel caused an even bigger problem for Rebecca Chaney as she drove to work on Sunday.

"My tires caught a bunch of gravel and I spun out of control and ended up backing into this ditch and that culvert popped my tire," Chaney said.

"When it was happening I thought I was going to die."

Her car nearly overturned, but she escaped unharmed.

The gravel has caused damage to other vehicles her family owns, as well.

"They need to fix it bad, because where you get a chip in your windshield or accident like mine everybody's going to be affected by it. It's a scary thing."

Donna Cochrell a survivor of the Oct. 16, 1991 shooting rampage at the Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen, also had a close call on the highway.

"Right when we were going around the curve we swerved, and then we were on the side of the road,” she said.

“We got out because we thought we had a flat tire," Cochrell said.

The gravel continued to fly as other vehicles passed by.

"It was like war zone," she said.

The gravel left her face and arms scraped, and triggered traumatic memories, she said.

TxDOT crews were out sweeping the gravel off the highway on Wednesday, but residents feel more needs to be done.

"It's not going to help. It's just going to keep happening, and they need to get rid of it," Chaney said.

TxDOT and the contractor of the project have received a number of complaints from drivers whose vehicles were damaged along this stretch of road.

Officials say complaints about road damage or conditions on Highway 190 between Kempner and Copperas Cove should be directed to Northeastern Pavers in Granbury.

The phone number is (817) 279-8273.

Complaints may also be emailed to kassidymata@northeasternpavers.com.