AUSTIN—Texas highways are safer now thanks to hundreds of projects completed in the last few years to add shoulders, width on more than 1,000 miles of rural, two-lane highways.
An analysis of 189 Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) road projects around the state shows that wider pavements make highways safer and result in fewer crashes.
Recently, TxDOT asked the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) to analyze and review three years of pre-and post-improvement data on more than a thousand miles of narrow two-lane highways that had been widened. The numbers show that on 1,159 miles of recently added highway shoulders, there were 133 fewer fatalities and 895 fewer injuries compared to prior to widening.
TTI has estimated that these projects could save up to 44 lives each year or 880 lives over 20 years-- and prevent 298 injuries or 5960 injuries over the same time period.
“Safety is our top priority,” said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. “The agency’s roadway widening initiative has been a tremendous success, both for increasing safety on Texas highways and potentially saving billions of dollars associated with fatal crashes and sustained injuries.”
In 2003, voters gave the Texas Transportation Commission the authority to issue $3 billion in bonds to pay for state highway improvements. The law stipulated that 20 percent of that amount must be used to fund projects that would reduce crashes or correct or improve hazardous locations on the state system. The Texas Legislature later increased the bonding authority to $6 billion.
TTI is also analyzing recently completed projects— mostly from the 2009 safety bond initiative— Among the 37 completed widening projects from that bond initiative, fatalities were reduced by an average of five annually. The $29 million construction cost for those 37 projects—through the 20-year life of the project—could save an estimated $456.4 million from fewer fatalities and serious injuries.
”I am proud of the role I played in creating the Safety Bond Program, and I sincerely thank TxDOT and the people of Texas for making it happen,” said Senator Steve Ogden, R-Bryan.
TxDOT plans on expanding these efforts in the future in areas where widening improvements are needed.
Here are the projects in the Bryan District:
• FM 974 from 4.5 miles south of FM 2776 to .6 miles of FM 2776
• FM 2776 from FM 974 to 3.1 miles southeast of FM 974
• FM 2154 from 4.5 miles of FM 2812 to 8.1 miles south of FM 2818
• RE 4 from FM 60 to Big Creek Park
• FM 244 from CR 297 to 2.77 miles north of SH 30
• FM 3090 from FM 149 to FM 3455
• FM 149 from .2 miles south of FM 2562 to Montgomery County Line
• FM 485 from Little Brazos River to US 79
• FM 230 from Houston County Line to Trinity County Line
• FM 389 from Austin County Line to FM 2502
• FM 390 from SH 36 to 1.5 miles west of FM 50
• FM 2935 from CR 212 to FM 577