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FORT WORTH (CBS11) – Designers of the new public safety training complex in Fort Worth, warned the city that police were driving far faster on a new training course than what it was designed to handle. Just months after the nearly $100-million facility opened, police are now doing high-speed driving training at a private racetrack in Cresson.
The letter from the Cornell FW Company last month said “Of particular concern to us is that we have witnessed Police personnel on the EVOC course reaching speeds of close to 80 miles per hour.” The letter says the facility, on the city’s south side near the intersection of I-35 and I-20, would have had to be twice as big to handle those speeds.
A “Use and Operations Limitations” document for the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex, says the maximum safe speed on the north curve of the track is 27 mph, and on the south turn, 24 mph. The limits are based on TXDOT roadway design manual. The cable safety fence, a safety feature to keep vehicles from leaving the track, is only for vehicles traveling less than 50 mph.
Tommy Abercrombie, a fire department lieutenant who acted as a liaison with designers during the project, said speed limits for the track were never specifically described as part of the design proposal. Abercrombie said the architects, however, should not be the ones deciding the limits for the track.
“The people who should be setting the safe speed on that track, are trained driving professionals,” he said.
In a written response to questions from the I-Team, police sergeant Steven Enright wrote “…it was known from the onset that the facility would not be able to be utilized as a high speed road course.”
New recruits are spending one day of a four-day course at the MotorSport Ranch in Cresson, Enright wrote. Officers in the Chevy Tahoe driving school are also spending one day away from the new facility.
The track made up $3.24 million of the $97.5 million total cost of the facility. City councilman Cary Moon said he believed some of the goals for the facility were not met.
“We’re under the impression that some of those dollars were not spent wisely or prudently and we need to review that process and make sure we don’t repeat that mistake again,” he said.
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