HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — For many, the news of one person dying and five others sent to the hospital from one traffic accident is alarming. Yet for some who live and work along US 290 west of Austin, that’s seemingly par for the course.
Tuesday morning, a wreck on 290 near Fitzhugh Road claimed the life of one, sent five to the hospital, and caused a massive traffic jam that lasted for hours. The westbound lanes on 290 were closed, and the eastbound lanes were reduced to one.
The investigation and clean up lasted for hours.
As for what caused the accident, DPS has not stated publicly what happened — not yet at least.
“So I have lived in Dripping Springs-Driftwood area for 25 years and I’ve driven this highway almost daily now for the past three and a half years — since I opened the store, I’ve just seen an influx of traffic due to the growth in Dripping Springs,’ says Tricia Dabney, a small business owner who works along 290 — about a half mile from where the accident took place.
“Most of [the drivers] are texting and driving,” adds Dabney. “This road is pretty straight, very well-marked as far as traffic signals, no curves. It’s not that difficult so for me seeing another wreck today which has become almost a weekly occurrence here. It was just another sign of someone distracted.”
Using information from TxDOT, there have been 1,367 crashes involving 3,688 people along the stretch of 290 from Austin to Dripping Springs in the last five years. The causes of the crashes vary from intoxication to distracted driving, but the stats can still raise eyebrows considering the handful of new traffic lights added and the reduction of the speed limit to 60 mph from 70.
“The cops are patrolling it already, they’ve lowered the speed limit. I don’t know, it’s going to have to take people changing their ways I believe,” says Dabney.
KXAN asked TxDOT if there were any construction projects planned for that stretch of highway.
According to their project monitoring website, there is a plan to re-pave the highway from west Austin to the Hays County line. Essentially, TxDOT plans to apply a thin layer of new asphalt to the highway.
According to Dabney, it’s not enough to ensure safety for those who use 290 daily.
“Slow down, watch the road,” says Dabney. “Think of other people.”