The intersection of Joe Battle and Edgemere has replaced Joe Battle and Montwood as the most dangerous intersection in the Sun City.
“It’s bad, it’s actually really bad,” Ramon Zavala said. Zavala drives the same route to and from Blessed Barber in Far East El Paso every single day. He says his commute is chaotic. “I guess about a month and a half ago, someone ran the stop light and I as coming in and boom crashed into the my car,” Zavala said.
Ignacio Piñon regularly fills up his tank at a gas station just around the corner from the barbershop. He too, says the traffic is hectic. “Of course there’s construction, but still, if you’re blocking the intersection and you don’t know how to drive, then that’s on you,” Piñon said.
Both men told ABC-7 they were not surprised to hear intersections around their part of town reported the highest number of crashes in the city.
“It’s El Paso, I mean honestly, the number of car accidents I see in a day have to range between three to five,” Piñon said. “That’s too little. I would probably say more,” Zavala added.
In 2015, the most dangerous intersection was Joe Battle and Montwood, which experienced a 41 collisions. That’s double what was reported at the second most dangerous intersection: George Dieter and Gateway West with 21 collisions.
In 2016, the intersection of Joe Battle and Edgemere topped the list with 32 collisions. At Joe Battle and Montwood, 30 collisions were reported this year. Joe Battle and Zaragosa came in third with 24 collisions.
Darrel Petry, spokesman for the El Paso Police Department, says speeding and driver inattention are the biggest factors in the number of crashes reported. “We see them disregard traffic control devices, we see them at the intersection trying to beat the light, trying to beat the change,” Petry said.
Petry also says there’s an officer assigned to each of the intersections on the list. “Each one of those intersections that is within the top 10 on the Eastside, has had an officer assigned and has been working diligently for 2016. We’ve used the traffic speed, trailer, and we have had officers out there who have written multiple citations attempting to get compliance from motorists,” Petry said.
The numbers also revealing a pattern in an already busy part of town: Far East El Paso. The area is booming with new stores and developments at almost every corner.
“We’ve been that the increase in population on the Eastside, because that continues growing continuously, the increase in traffic for the people that live out there may be a contributing factor to those intersections jumping up to the top spots,” Petry said.
Those roads haven’t seen much change.
“The infrastructure hasn’t really changed, with the lanes being widened or accommodating more vehicles in that area, but it is a large portion of our population and it’s a large portion of our vehicular traffic for the City of El Paso located within that area,” Petry said.
“It’s a very complex and bad intersection,” Bob Bielek, TxDot’s District Engineer said. He admits there’s a problem and says that’s why they’ve funded a project slated to begin in 2018 to ease the pressure.
“We’re in the process of developing a project that would completely straighten that out and straighten Zaragoza out so you don’t have to get onto Montwood and then make the left turn onto Joe Battle and then go turn to back onto Zaragosa,” Bielek said.
It’s a vicious cycle, however, as Bielek acknowledged construction itself is a culprit. Bielek also says some of the responsibility falls on those behind the wheel. “Part of the problem we have here in El Paso is people don’t respect construction zones,” Bielek added.
Halting construction is not an option, so while the roads continue to change, the only option drivers have for now, is to adapt.
“The projects that are going on across the city, the construction projects that are addressing other infrastructure issues, trying to ease, but at the time those are being completed, that traffic has to go somewhere. And so unfortunately, a lot of these intersections at the top of these lists are taking the brunt of that traffic flow,” Petry said.
Petry adds none of the crashes reported in the top 10 intersections lists were deadly.