Residents push for improvements on dark stretch of FM 78 in Kirby

KIRBY, Texas – The city of Kirby is pushing for more safety features along FM 78, a roadway known to lack lighting at night.

“There is some ambient lighting from the Union Pacific rail yard, but that area is kind of sparse when it comes to traffic lights,” said Kevin Bois, Kirby police chief.

Martin Casarez Jr., 29, was struck and killed by a driver Tuesday night while trying to cross the busy highway on foot. 

“None of the witnesses saw him until the moment of impact,” Bois said. “It was like all of a sudden, he was there.”

Casarez reportedly was wearing dark clothing and was not using the crosswalk. His death rocked several drivers, including the one who hit him.

“She was just a very frightened and upset woman,” Bois said about a witness. “She was heading to her night shift job.”

Last August, a Fort Sam Houston soldier suffered critical injuries after being hit on the same dark roadway by an alleged drunk driver. Years before that, Bois said, another woman died. Though these crashes seem few and far between, residents want to see changes.

Bois said another issue on FM 78 is that the crosswalks are over a mile apart from each other, and people are taking shortcuts, which he said is not worth the risk. 

“Take the extra time,” Bois said. “If you are like me, use the extra exercise, but get down there and do it the right way.”

Authorities say you should wear light colors, use reflectors or have a blinking flashlight with you while walking at night. Drivers should also always yield to pedestrians and be extra vigilant when driving in the dark.

The Texas Department of Transportation said it has a project in place that will address the concerns of the roadway, such as adding more lighting and accessibility for pedestrians. A date has not been confirmed as far as when that project will begin.

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