Since 2011, the intersection of Wolfe Nursery Road and West Washington Street has produced the highest number of traffic accidents reported to the Stephenville Police Department.
With businesses booming in the area and the city and Tarleton State University continuing to grow, this heavily congested intersection is becoming a concern for those who travel it.
According to documents obtained from Stephenville police, there have been 64 accidents at the intersection since 2011.
“The city is aware of the situation,” Police Chief Pat Bridges said. “Looking back at two years of data for reportable crashes, the most significant factor is driver inattention. Driver inattention refers to anything that diverts a driver’s attention from operating [their] vehicle. It could be using a mobile device; it could be eating or drinking or another person or animal distracting the driver.”
The intersection is surrounded by popular shopping centers like Wal-Mart and Staples, dining favorites like Chili’s as well as a school zone for Henderson Junior High and housing developments for Tarleton students at The Grove.
Having such a cluster of major attractions in a small town creates a swarming intersection at the busiest hours of the day.
Although Washington Street runs through the heart of Stephenville, Mayor Kenny Weldon was quick to point out the street is actually US Hwy. 377, which is controlled by the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT).
TXDOT could not be reached for comment.
With the intersection not falling under the control of the city, some council members seemed surprised by the news.
“I wasn’t aware that the intersection was dangerous,” councilman Brady Pendleton said.
One of the biggest traffic concerns was recently resolved when a traffic light was installed at the intersection of Washington and Ollie streets by Sonic.
Scott Evans, a Stephenville city councilman, was not aware of the situation either.
“The intersection of Wolfe Nursery and Washington has not been brought up to the council yet," Evans said. "The biggest topic has been the intersection by the Sonic that just got a light.”
Local businesses can be affected when these intersections have accidents that bring traffic to a halt.
Staples sales associate Sam Burnett gets a frontrow view of the intersection from work and he sees firsthand why these accidents occur.
“These are two of the busiest parking lots; there’s a Walmart and a school zone and a lot of people are in a hurry,” Burnett said.
The records indicate the intersection is the busiest, but City Administrator Mark Kaiser disputes the label of "most dangerous" just based off the numbers.
Kaiser believes the area being highly commercial in a controlled intersection and the roads having passing and turning lanes contribute to the number of accidents.
Savannah Trantham, Autumn Owens, Sharon Trimble, Julie Gutierrez, Katie Gibbs, Dawelo Sears and Isaac Foster also contributed to this report.