Hays County promises fix to broken recently-installed road dots meant to slow down drivers

Investigations

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — By the time Elizabeth Yakubik walked from her car to our interview spot along Hilliard Road, she’d collected a handful of ceramic road dots.

The pieces were lying in the grass beside the road. One of the pieces was an intact road dot, commonly known as Botts’ dots. They’re typically used as lane markers.

Elizabeth Yakubik shows off pieces of ceramic lane markers she says are breaking away at the intersection of Hilliard and Lime Kiln Roads in Hays County.

“Someone said that one flew off when an oncoming car hit it and then it flew into her open window,” Yakubik said. “And, these are pretty heavy ceramic buttons, they’re not lightweight …they’re solid ceramic.”

The county installed around 140 of the dots across Hilliard Road in February to help slow traffic and to notify drivers of the upcoming Lime Kiln intersection. Within days, Yakubik said the markers were breaking apart and flying off the road.

In April, Hays County’s Transportation Department re-installed the 140 dots. We found some of the new dots missing and several were broken when we visited the site to investigate Yakubik’s complaint.

On April 10, Yakubik emailed her county commissioner, Walt Smith, and the county’s transportation superintendent, Aaron Jones. Jones responded to that email the same day, telling Yakubik, “I met with our supplier and went over the concerns, and we are working to remedy them. We will continue to monitor the intersection and make adjustments as needed.”

Yakubik said she never heard from Commissioner Smith until someone tagged Smith in a thread on her neighborhood Facebook group in April, she told KXAN. Screenshots of that conversation show Smith told the group he’d “look at this again.”

“I was on Lime Kiln yesterday to check on the improvements we have discussed in the past and we will prepare an update to share with you guys once I get some better timetables,” Smith wrote in the post.

Yakubik said she’s waited nearly three months for an update from Smith.

Within an hour of KXAN emailing the county transportation superintendent, a transportation worker showed up on Hilliard Road to photograph the traffic dots. The worker confirmed he was told by Jones to go to the site after our email asking about the project’s cost to taxpayers.

“I’m going to be honest with y’all. In the first round, I think my guys moved off too quickly, so they set, or they didn’t put enough down,” the worker told Yakubik, who showed the worker the pieces of the ceramic dots she found scattered along the side of the road.

Hays County sent a transportation department worker to the Hilliard Road scene about an hour after KXAN emailed asking for information on the project. Elizabeth Yakubik said she hadn’t heard anything from the county since April 10.

A county spokeswoman said the cost to install and re-install the dots was “about $1,300.” The county also confirmed workers will be back out next week to tear the existing traffic dots up to replace them “with a newer product they’re transitioning to,” Laureen Chernow wrote in an email to KXAN.

Chernow did not provide details about the replacement product. The worker we saw at the intersection said it is “a hard plastic that doesn’t break.”

Commissioner Smith told KXAN he’s planning to “host a community meeting” with people who live around the intersection “to not only discuss signage but other issues and projects as well,” Smith wrote in an email to KXAN.

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