Tres Rios Estates residents got a little good news Monday when the Somervell County Commissioners Court voted to make a short stretch of County Road 312 off limits to heavy commercial truck traffic.

A large gathering of those residents, concerned about issues related to the heavy commercial truck traffic that recently began coming and going from a nearby gravel pit, filled the seats in the Commissioners Court. By a 5-0 vote, the commissioners approved posting of signs stating that heavy trucks are no longer allowed on that part of CR 312.

“They were all people who live out there,” County Judge Danny Chambers told the Glen Rose Reporter afterward. Chambers said that the signs will apply only to the stretch of road he said “may be less than a mile” long.”

Chambers said, “Everybody was definitely for it (the signs). Nobody was in opposition to it. Kids, animals, backing into the road — it’s just not wide enough. It just wasn’t built to handle what’s going on out there.”

The ruling was especially meaningful to Rick Clark, one of the two Tres Rios Estates residents who spoke during the commissioners public hearing prior the vote. In addition to their common concerns with the rest of the neighborhood, Clark and his wife recently experienced an emotional hit that still stings.

They woke one morning recently to find that their longtime, dearly beloved companion — a 13-year-old dachshund — had been killed by a passing vehicle.

Since then, they put up a sign under their mailbox next to the road that says, “Drive like your kids live here.”

The Clarks didn’t see the hit-and-run accident happen, so they don’t know who to blame. But Rick said after Monday’s meeting, “It could have been a kid.”

Clark noted that the speed limit along that road is 35 mph. He said that the “danger, nuisance, noise and destruction of our road started at the end of December or the first of January,” 

Clark said the flow of large transport trucks has gone “from zero to a dozen to two dozen.”

Clark, who said they have lived in their Tres Rios Estates home 21 years, tated that the commissioners “reacted very quickly. I’m very hopeful.” 

STILL TRUCKIN’

The trucks still have another route to get to U.S. Highway 67 — on FM 200 — and it’s actually closer than traveling down the segment of CR 312 in question. Clark said that the truck drivers apparently had been taking the slightly longer route in order to avoid a fairly sharp turn as they head north to 67.

The ruling would not have been legally possible if the roadway in question was the only path for the trucks to get to the highway. 

The development of the gravel pit — which is easily visible to the Clarks when the look out the back door of their home — began when M&W Ranch leased that land to Ingram Sand and Gravel. Previous reports show that the company, owned by Ingram Concrete, LLC, has requested a permit (No. 152417LOO1) to construct a rock crusher on the site. That has not yet been approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Clark also said that he has concerns about that potentially having a negative impact on the air and the river.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Wade Busch said that the appropriate signage is expected to be in place soon, possibly by the end of the current week. The ruling goes into effect immediately, so until then deputies would be authorized to issue warnings instead of writing a ticket for what will be up to a $200 fine. 

While Clark is hopeful the ruling will make their road safer, he pointed out that they will be in and out of the nearby gravel pit for many years to come — and it remains to be seen if the signs and potential fines will make a difference.

“It’s a matter of time for us to see if the mining company wants to be a good neighbor and control the trucks using County Road 312 as a bypass for them,” Clark said, noting that the river basins in this area a full of the ideal raw material used to make concrete. “Sixty percent of the Brazos River (surrounding area) in Somervell County is under contract.”