Drivers in Washington County worried about dangers of FM 50 detour

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INDEPENDENCE, Tex. (KBTX) - A traffic detour in Washington County is seeing a deadly stretch of accidents this summer.

Since July, TxDOT has been working on FM 50 just south of Independence to Highway 105. Eventually, improvements will make for a better drive for people going through this area.

In the meantime, much more traffic is traveling down FM 2621, the detour route for FM 50 travelers.

In recent months there have been more accidents on FM 2621. It's a two-lane highway with lots of twists and turns.

"Yes, that's the main danger, I think, of this road in total is the fact that it has many curves and many hills," said Kris Brower, Pastor of Sandy Hill's St. Matthew Lutheran Church.

In October 2017, one of Brower's parishioners was killed on a Sunday morning as she pulled into the church. The vehicle she was riding in was t-boned by a vehicle coming down the highway.

"They couldn't see the truck coming up the hill on the other side and, you know, so we're concerned about that aspect of it," he said.

There are also concerns with the church sitting close to the narrow highway at the top of the hill. For their recent summer Vacation Bible School, they put up temporary fencing to keep kids from the road.

"That's always a danger because even on Sunday morning sometimes children are playing out here in the front," said Brower.

Local volunteer fire departments are also seeing more accidents.

In July, 18-year-old Brenham High School graduate Rhead Robbins died when his vehicle rolled over while taking a curve. Robbins wasn't wearing a seat belt.

"[We also had a] one-car rollover, which we had the two children ejected. One passed away and then just, I think, a day or two later, we had an accident which was, which did cause a lot of damage to the vehicles but was not a fatality," explained Asst. Chief Doug Zwiener of the Prairie Hill- Rocky Hill Volunteer Fire Department.

Zwiener is also a Washington County Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1.

"We've asked and we've gotten cooperation from the Department of Public Safety, the sheriff's department and the Precinct 1 Constable's Office to increase patrols on that road to just remind everybody to slow down," he said.

"It’s a narrow two-lane country road and people just aren't really used to those kinds of turns in a road," said Zwiener.

TxDOT has added some digital speed trailers to the road and is looking at more signage.

"We highly recommend that somebody evaluate that and come up with a more permanent solution," said Brower.

TxDOT told KBTX the full rehabilitation project for FM 50 should be finished by next August. The current detour is expected to be in place until this November.

The $6.5 million project is being handled by contractor Big Creek.