More deputies patrolling US 290 in effort to reduce crashes

Extra deputies assigned to patrol parts of Hwy 290 east of Dripping Springs. (KXAN photo)
Extra deputies assigned to patrol parts of Hwy 290 east of Dripping Springs. (KXAN photo)

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — The section of US Highway 290 that connects Dripping Springs to Austin has proven to be a deadly road time and time again. Now, state and local law enforcement agencies are ramping up patrols in hopes of cutting down the amount of crashes in the area.

Many drivers in Dripping Springs have stories about almost being in a car crash along Highway 290.

“More times than I care for, yes ma’am. In fact, just an hour ago I almost got in one just up the street,” said driver James McComb. “There’s a lot of crazy drivers on 290 about this time of day.”

Those living in the area say the influx of people was simply too fast for the current infrastructure, and now many drivers are battling for space on the roads.

The population in Hays County has grown in the past 10 years. At the start of the decade, the U.S. Census Bureau tallied more than 157,000 people. The estimated population last year showed more than 200,000.

“There are a lot of subdivisions on this road and they just can’t handle the traffic,” said Dripping Springs driver Cindy Frechette. “It’s terrifying; my daughters drive it every day. We have a store in Dripping Springs and they live in Austin and it worries me every day.”

At the beginning of this year, only two Hays County Sheriff deputies were assigned to patrol Highway 290 east of Dripping Springs. After a town hall meeting last month in Dripping Springs, law enforcement agencies say they decided to triple the number of deputies to patrol a stretch of highway just under five miles long.

“We have been pretty effective with it. We haven’t had the number of accidents or the frequency since we increased patrol,” said Hays County Sheriff’s Department Captain Mike Davenport.

The Hays County Sheriff’s Department says it has also been putting more focus on the west side of Dripping Springs on Highway 290. The department says most of those deputies are working overtime so they don’t have to pull them away from other areas where they are needed.

As more deputies patrol the area, drivers say they are definitely starting to notice.

“There’s a lot of cops on the road, so you got to watch your speed for sure,” said driver Jonathan Guerrero.

“I see highway patrolmen, county sheriff’s department… they have amped up patrol and it has helped,” said Frechette.

Still, Frechette says there could be more done to make the highway more safe for drivers. “I think they’re going to have to drop the speed limit. There are just too many subdivisions, too many businesses and too many cars,” she said.

According to TxDOT records, since 2010, there have been 13 crashes where someone has died on US 290 between McGregor Lane in Hays County to Circle Drive in Travis County.

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