Dripping Springs mom launches US 290 safety efforts after close calls

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DRIPPING SPRINGS (KXAN) — A couple of years ago, mother of two, Sarah Kline moved to Hays County into the Belterra neighborhood just outside of Dripping Springs. She quickly realized the section of US 290 she lived next to wasn’t the same as other highways.

She says she had two close calls that almost caused her to be in a wreck. 

“The highway is not OK,” she said. “One time I was actually run off the road into a ditch with my children in the vehicle with me because the car behind me wouldn’t slow down.”

Kline decided to launch her own safety campaign called 290 Safety Coalition last week, and so far has gathered over 1,000 signatures on a petition.

Kline and her campaign are demanding Texas Department of Transportation reduce the speed limit on US 290 from Nutty Brown Road west to Trautwein Road.

“Really, we would like them to reduce the speed in Cedar Valley too,” she said. 

By reducing the speed limit on the highway, Kline hopes it will help lower the number of accidents. 

The most recent deadly crash on the highway took place Friday, when an SUV and a semi truck collided leaving a man dead. A month ago, another wreck left one person dead and five others hurt, along that same stretch. Traffic was blocked for hours after both wrecks as investigators pieced together what happened and emergency response officials tended to the victims.

“When I go and meet neighbors for coffee, we usually start the conversation with, ‘I almost just got into an accident on 290,'” Kline said.

Hays County Commissioner Walt Smith agreed the speed limit should be reduced, but says he believes there are other factors also contributing to crashes. 

“If you have distracted drivers or people pulling out into traffic, you’re still going to have a certain number of wrecks,” he said. 

Smith said the county is working closely with TxDOT on safety improvements in the area and at present, the transportation agency is paving US 290 West from Circle Drive to the Hays County line.

TxDOT officials say speed limits along roads are set by conducting engineering studies in the area. Transportation officials are also in the early stages of planning and designing a widening project which will be a six-lane divided highway from Ranch Road 1826 to Ranch Road 12.

Smith said he plans to hold a community meeting next month. 

Kline said she’d just like to see improvements that will keep her, her children and her neighbors safe.

Oak Hill Parkway Project Update

Just down the road, the Oak Hill Parkway Project is moving forward step-by-step. TxDOT plans to award a contract next year to a developer to build three main lanes in each direction as well as two to three frontage road lanes.

There will also be an overpass over William Cannon Drive and new flyovers between US 290 and State Highway 71.

Construction is expected to take four years.

Widening US 290 from Bastrop County to Lee County

Wednesday, TxDOT will break ground on work for a widening project that will end with four lanes on each side between Elgin and Giddings. The project costs $28 million.

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