LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Heavy traffic concerns outside a Leander-area neighborhood have drivers there pushing for a traffic signal to be installed at the intersection of U.S. Highway 183 and Whitewing Drive as soon as possible.
“It is extremely hard to make right or left turns out of the subdivision and it gets blocked up between the two lanes of 183 going both directions,” Susan Williams said. “With a school being built in here and all the houses that are already here and many, many more coming, population is just going to increase.”
Homeowners say a number of accidents have been caused at the intersection, in large part, because a light is necessary there.
Ruth Extein, a homeowner in the Larkspur subdivision, says she witnessed a terrible accident play out right in front of her as she left the neighborhood one day. But, she says she sees several close calls, too.
“Everybody drives really fast and aggressive. It’s just a really dangerous intersection,” Extein said. “People are very impatient — rushing to work, cutting people off, not waiting their turn. It gets very scary.”
They believe conditions will only get worse with new developments — both residential and commercial — that are still building there.
“This area is growing at probably one of the fastest paces of anywhere in Texas,” said Dwain Schuh, the developer and owner of The Shops at San Gabriel Ridge, the development that will open soon across the highway.
Schuh also supports a traffic light at the location because he believes without one, the intersection is unsafe.
“You have to consider that people are going 60 miles an hour or more on the cross traffic and so, to cross over there, or to turn right or to turn left, is a little more dangerous than if there was a traffic signal,” Schuh said. “Crossing it as many times as I have crossed it, you really realize how fast those cars are moving. You want to be careful.”
A representative with the Texas Department of Transportation told KXAN there are plans to install a traffic signal at the intersection as part of a 13-signal installation contract that goes out for bid next month. The Whitewing/Larkspur signal is scheduled to be the first signal constructed under the contract. Construction for the light should start this summer 2019.
For Extein, that may not be soon enough.
“The light needs to be up right away because it’s going to get worse, and I would hate for somebody to die in that intersection,” she said. “Why wait?”
The Larkspur neighborhood on the east side of 183 and the Summerlyn neighborhood on the west side are both municipal utility districts.
Larkspur falls in Liberty Hill’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ).
According to that city, because the development was expected to generate over 1,000 trips per day, the Larkspur Subdivision, a Municipal Utility District (MUD), was required to conduct a traffic impact analysis. The subdivision did that in 2014 and representatives with Liberty Hill say TxDOT reviewed it.
TxDOT says the traffic signal was first considered in 2014. At that time, the intersection was “working well without a signal.” The Larkspur subdivision had not yet been constructed. Since its completion late last year, the agency says, it’s “created a need for a signal at this intersection.”
TxDOT also says that when the subdivision was being developed, the developer was required to install a right-turn lane, based on the traffic impact analysis.