AUSTIN (KXAN) — A portion of the State Highway 130 toll has one of the fastest posted speed limits in the United States, topping at 85 mph. The speed limit drops to 65 mph on the frontage roads, where the majority of crashes happen, at intersections with slower moving traffic along county roads.
The company that maintains the tollway is now taking new steps to ensure the 41-mile southern section of the road between State Highway 45 southeast and Interstate 10 in Seguin is safe for drivers.
More than 150 crashes have littered the frontage roads in the past four years. Mike Pillsbury, the chief operating officer of the SH 130 Concession Company that maintains the southern section of the road, says that number is too high.
“We want the roadways to be the safest roadways we can possibly have in this region,” says Pillsbury.
A safety summit brought public safety agencies, first responders and elected officials from along the SH 130 Corridor together to share information and discuss ways to improve safety along the frontage roads. “We are trying to organize those thoughts around the three E’s of highway safety: education, enforcement and engineering,” says Pillsbury.
They came up with some immediate changes:
- Installing oversized STOP signs at FM 1185
- Installing rumble strips at FM 2001, SH 142 and FM 1185
- Relocating guide signs to eliminate potential obstruction of STOP signs at FM 1185
- Replacing black on white “cross traffic does not stop” signs with black on yellow signs to increase visibility
- Replacing “signal ahead” signs with “intersection ahead” signs
- Replacing all pavement markings to improve retro-reflectivity
The changes were made along the frontage roads approaching Caldwell County. Pillsbury explains that drivers are a key part of the solution, “I need help from the drivers. They’re the ones behind the wheel. If they could just make sure they buckle up and the put the cell phones down that would be a great help toward that.”
There will be another safety summit in the next month to continue the collaboration.
“We are part of this community. One of the things we recognize is that the majority of folks involved in these accidents come form this community. We want everyone to be as safe as a possible,” says Pillsbury.
Since the number of crashes is so high on the SH 130/ US 183 frontage roads in the past four years, about half of these were major crashes, which resulted in injuries or more than $1,000 in property damage and was a result of excessive speed and drivers not paying attention.
Another 20 major crashes occurred during this time in wet conditions, most of which also involved only one car.