Growth blamed for making U.S. 290 deadly around Dripping Springs

County officials say growth could be to blame for more car crashes on highway 290 . (KXAN Photo)
County officials say growth could be to blame for more car crashes on Highway 290 . (KXAN Photo)

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — Since May, eight people have died on Highway 290 near Dripping Springs. Officials say the growth in the county is too much, too fast and could be behind the increase in crashes.

“You usually see one a week,” said Dripping Spring resident Lisa Baker. “If you don’t see them you hear about them, or you hear the sirens.”

County officials and those living in Dripping Springs say they have a pretty good idea as to why wrecks seem to be happening more often. They say the number of subdivisions being built is causing the roads to become overcrowded. “The housing is outgrowing the road itself and so I think that is what is attributing to a lot of the wrecks we are having recently,” said Hays County Lt. Dennis Gutierres

With thousands of homes built or being built along the highway, their only entrance or exit is into traffic moving 60 miles per hour. “There’s no service road so when people are even trying to slow down and turn into their subdivisions, it’s a difficult way of doing it,” said Gutierres.

In May, five people were killed in a two-vehicle crash at 290 and Crow Ranch Road. In August, two died following another two-vehicle wreck at 290 and Holder Lane, just west of Dripping Springs.

The Hays County Sheriff’s Office says they are doing what they can to make sure the highway stays safe, but are working off limited resources. “We have deputies attempt to go out there and run traffic stops, but they have to take calls. So with the limited amount of manpower, and it’s such a large stretch of road, it’s very difficult to even make a small dent into the problems we are having right now.”

A large subdivision is also planned to be built south of Highway 290 on Ranch Road 12. Officials say drivers need to be aware, because they expect to see these same issues on that road in the future.

Next month, voters in Hays county will decide whether to approve a $131 million bond to make safety improvements to roads. $4 million of the proposition two money is earmarked for safety improvements to 290-West. Another $2 million would go to widening the highway.

In 2014, KXAN reported that after five people were killed in crashes on 290 through Dripping Springs, a petition to lower the speed limit eventually got it decreased from 65 to 60 mph. 

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