NOLANVILLE — A pair of wrecks in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 14 in Nolanville caused traffic jams this morning.
In the first wreck, reported at 5:58 a.m., a 2014 red Volkswagen car was attempting to change lanes and sideswiped a concrete-mixer truck, said Nolanville Police Chief Dan Porter. The car then spun out of control, eventually stopping in the center median.
The driver of the car was taken to Seton Medical Center-Harker Heights to get checked out, however, no serious injuries were reported, police said. The wreck was cleared at 7:40 a.m.
In the second wreck, reported at 7:48 a.m., a 2019 Ford Fiesta rear-ended a 2017 Dodge Ram, Porter said.
"The truck slowed down due to stacked up traffic ahead," and then was hit from behind by the car, the chief said. The driver of the pick-up truck was taken to Seton, but no serious injuries were reported. The wreck was cleared by 8:48 a.m.
Heavy morning traffic on I-14 in Nolanville is common, and the Wednesday morning congestion seemed to be heavier than normal, Porter said, which played a part in the accidents.
While Porter said he didn't know why eastbound traffic seemed to be particularly congested Wednesday, tens of thousands of commuters in both directions everyday present a challenge for the Nolanville Police Department.
"We do have a lot of traffic," said Porter, adding he didn't have traffic counts immediately available.
And there is also a lot traffic accidents on I-14 in Nolanville, where the speed limit is 75 mph.
"It's a straight stretch of highway. You would think it would be smooth sailing," Porter said.
But that's not the case: High traffic congestion, the high speed limit, and even the morning sunrise all play a part in the interstate crashes NPD responds to, Porter said.
Porter said his officers see a lot traffic in the westbound lanes early in the morning, likely from soldiers and Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center heading to work at Fort Hood.
But then around 7 a.m., the heavier traffic shifts to eastbound lanes, with many commuters likely heading to Interstate 35 and Baylor Scott and White, the major employer in Temple.
A wreck can tie up a police officer for an hour or more, Porter said. Fortunately, he said, the department has increased staff to have two or three officers on duty at time, but in past years they've only had one on duty at times.
A Texas Department of Transportation plan to expand lanes in each direction from two to three will help limit the number of wrecks, Porter said, but more could be done, too.
Lowering the speed limit from 75 to 65 mph will reduce the number of wrecks, which in large part are due to excessive speed and drivers not able to slow down in time.
The I-14 speed limit is 60 mph in Killeen, 65 in Harker Heights, but then goes up to 75 mph as drivers enter Nolanville in the eastbound lanes.
"And then it's like the Autobahn all the way to Belton," Porter said, adding a 65 mph limit will match what is in Harker Heights.