Neighbors call for action on southwest Austin road where crashes nearly tripled in past year

Traffic

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — In the past year, traffic crashes along Ranch to Market Road 1826 have nearly tripled. Just this week, an Austin ISD school bus swerved to miss an oncoming vehicle on RM 1826 and ended up going off the road. AISD reports there were no students on board during the crash.

Austin Police reported the bus driver was taken to an area hospital by Austin-Travis County EMS. No word on the driver’s condition.

However, for those who live along 1826, sadly, this is not rare. They say too many people speed and get into accidents. Those who live in the Lewis Mountain Ranch neighborhood have turned to State Rep. Vikki Goodwin for some help. They want to see dedicated turn lanes in and out of the neighborhood along with other improvements

Goodwin hosted a community meeting alongside Travis County leaders Friday. They met with the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Department of Public Safety to discuss what can be done to make some improvements and enhance safety for drivers along the road.

“My goal is for the residents to have an opportunity to express their concerns and for TxDOT and for the county and state to express ways that they can fix the problem,” Goodwin said.

The community meeting took place at noon at the Lewis Mountain Ranch Neighborhood Park.

Neighbors like Dana Leslie say the road can “often feels like we are on the last lap of the Dayton race.”

The speeding cars, blind spots around curves and lack of dedicated turns lanes in the growing area have Leslie rethinking her family’s future.

“Right now, my plan is when my 13 year old is old enough to drive, if 1826 has not changed, we will move,” she said.

She’s not the only concerned mom.

“I have a 17-year-old daughter who is a new driver, and that’s scary just in itself,” Brandie Lamberth said.

The latest numbers from TxDOT show so far this year in Travis County along 1826 there have been 21 crashes involving 79 people, and along the Hays County section of the road, there have been 27 crashes involving 62 people. TxDOT’s number nearly tripled from the previous year.

However, that number doesn’t compare to what the Hays County Sheriff’s Office records show for the year. Deputies there report 58 crashes along 1826 from Ranch Road 12 to the Travis County line.

“I feel like the road is completely unsafe,” Leslie said.

During the community meeting, TxDOT announced it would be adding six dedicated turn lanes at intersections along 1826, including one into the Lewis Mountain Ranch neighborhood. The agency also plans to add additional signage along curves to warn drivers and has hired a consultant to begin work on the future of widening 1826.

In an effort to address speeding concerns, earlier this year, TxDOT reduced the speed limit on RM 1826 between U.S. 290 to State Highway 45 by five miles from 55 to 50 miles per hour. They plan to do the same between State Highway 45 and Ranch to Market Road 150. That change will go before the Texas Transportation Commission in January.

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