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.
For more information, contact Robert Wunderlich at [email protected] or (972) 994-0433 Ext. 13105.