290 Safety Coalition
 

Our Mission:

Safety.

This request is to lower the speed limit in the East Portion of City Limits in Dripping Springs, TX to lower fatalities and severe injuries.

Walt Smith, Hays County Commissioner, is in support of re-evaluation for a reduced speed limit. You can contact him with any questions at walt.smith@co.hays.tx.us

 

1

We are asking the Texas Department of Transportation to consider the safety of all of our roadway users, including children going to school and after care programs, as the population of Dripping Springs and the vehicles that travel per day on 290 increase year after year. Id. § 545.357


2

We are asking that you take into consideration how the residents that live in the East Portion of Dripping Springs use this area of highway as a local road for errands, school, shopping and entertainment - not for traveling long distances. Id. § 545.353 b1


3

We are asking that you take the population, number of businesses, number of turns, growth projections and high likelihood of injury or fatality on a road that is used for local driving into account when you make your decision on the reduced speed limit. § 25.23 5ii



4

We are asking that you consider the East Portion of city-owned property along U.S. 290 as a way to allow the East Portion of Dripping Springs to have a lower speed limit without looking at the 85th percentile, due to the exception for municipalities.  Id. § 545.356


5

We are asking that you consider a reduced speed limit for the East Portion of City Limits in Dripping Springs as the built-up businesses and residents here require speeds below the statewide maximum for safe operation. Id. § 545.356

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What is East Dripping Springs?

For this request we are referring to the area between Trautwein and Nutty Brown road in Dripping Springs as the East Portion of Dripping Springs. Portion is defined as “a part of a whole; an amount, section, or piece of something.” The City of Dripping Springs owns land in this area, and we are asking TXDOT to consider this city-owned land when making a decision on a reduced speed limit, in addition to many other safety concerns outlined here.

This website contains the same information that is shared in the request for a reduced speed limit that has been sent to TXDOT and entered into public record. If you want to see the official letter, you can read that here.

Reduce Speed to Reduce Injury

Victims of accidents experience injuries more than half of the time in the Eastern Portion of Dripping Springs, and fatalities occur every year. This occurs at a significantly higher rate than other areas that are comparable in business density and residential density.

Fatalities and severe injury will continue to occur at a higher rate than average for comparable areas until a reduced speed limit is introduced.

51%

51% chance of injury in east portion of dripping springs

In the area between Trautwein and Nutty Brown Road, in Hays County, there is a 51% chance of an injury for every accident that occurs. The speed limit is 60mph, despite there being more businesses, more residents, and more turns in this area than in the city limits of Downtown Dripping Springs.

 

15%

15% chance of injury in downtown dripping springs.

If you get into an accident in Downtown Dripping Springs, there is a 15% chance of an injury. 85% of crashes in Downtown Dripping Springs report no injuries. Reduced speed limits reduce injuries and fatalities and are especially important on highways that run through a town - and areas that behave as one.


 
 

22%

22% chance of injury near bee cave galleria

State Highway 71 has a speed limit of 50mph through Bee Cave Galleria, and 78% of accidents there report no injury. This area was thoughtfully designed with dedicated turn lanes throughout all areas of the highway, in stark contrast to The East Portion of Dripping Springs where cars must slow down to 20mph to turn at 90 degree angles for most turns. Bee Cave Galleria is also not densely residential, like The East Portion of Dripping Springs.


 

City Owned Land & Density

 
 
Downtown Dripping Springs City Owned Land

Downtown Dripping Springs City Owned Land

City owned land

The East Portion of Dripping Springs is the area of town east of Trautwein Road. Well known landmarks owned by the City of Dripping Springs are Belterra Village, Ledgestone Senior Living, Belterra Apartments, The Prep Preschool and Primrose Preschool, and a large amount of commercial land that is about to be developed.

The areas that are owned by The City of Dripping Springs are outlined here showing how there is municipality-owned land in the East Portion of Dripping Springs.



high population density

The East Portion of Dripping Springs is more populated than the City of Downtown Dripping Springs due to large subdivisions that are built directly off of U.S. 290, including (but not limited to) Belterra, Highpointe, Ledgestone, and Vistas of Sawyer Ranch.

The East Portion of Dripping Springs has more than 19,000 residents, compared to Downtown Dripping Springs at roughly 4,000 when you look at the same area radius, as shown here.


Population in city limits vs The East Portion of Dripping Springs

Population in city limits vs The East Portion of Dripping Springs


Population Density; School Zones

Population Density; School Zones

school zones and density

The East Portion of Dripping Springs is very densely populated. One way to visualize just how densely populated this area is to show how Rooster Springs Elementary, in purple , has more students in the small 1,600 acre area than Dripping Springs Elementary, which is located within Downtown Dripping Springs City Limits.

While elementary and middle school students are able to stay within The East Portion of Dripping Springs, High School Students are bussed on the most densely populated, and most fatal stretch of 290 twice a day. The parents of children in the East Portion of Dripping Springs have a worry that is unique to this side of town.



 

There are many contributing factors to why the stretch of highway in The East Portion of Dripping Springs is more dangerous and contributes to more severe injuries and fatalities than other areas of the highway.

 
 

Population Density

This area of the highway is not only more densely populated but it is used as a local road to run errands, not a highway to travel long distances.



Business density

This area of the highway contains more businesses than any other area of the highway within Hays county on US290. If you compare the East Portion of Dripping Springs (and Cedar Valley) to Downtown Dripping Springs, you see that there are 169 businesses currently, with many more slotted to be developed.


Traffic density

This area of the highway has a high traffic density due to it being used as a primary shopping area. It also is a juncture for the most highly populated subdivisions in Dripping Springs, as well as the only way to travel West of Dripping Springs from Austin.


Urban sprawl

The increase in vehicles that travel per day on this highway grows year after year, just like the population in Dripping Springs. There are currently 30,000 people who live in Dripping ETJ, and 35,000 vehicles that travel per day on 290 in the East Portion of Dripping Springs, according to the Belterra Village Developer, Endeavor. The projections for growth are exponential, with an estimated 9,000 new homes that will be built in the next 6 years according to DSISD. 9,000 new homes will bring a lot of extra vehicles on the road. We need to stay ahead of growth and the amount of vehicles this growth will put on our roads to prevent more fatalities and severe accident from occurring and protect our residents.


Turn density

This area of the highway contains a significant amount more turns than any other area due to the amount of businesses and residents that live off of it. The majority of these turns are at 90 degree angles without dedicated turn lanes. Currently you are allowed to cross the highway at any point, any time of day. These turns are a top contributing factor to accidents, especially as people are slowing down to 20mph to turn off of the highway with a 60mph speed limit — and trying to enter onto the highway with cars traveling at 60mph from both directions.

Current speed zone testing does not allow for consideration of average speed to include the speed of any vehicle that is slowing down for a turn, or for the vehicles behind them. Only “free floating” vehicles can be used to determine the speed zone. The East Portion of Dripping Springs contains 35% more turns than other areas of the highway. Due to the use of the highway as a local road and the amount of turns that are done on and off of it, we would recommend that the 85th percentile take into consideration all vehicles traveling on the road for an accurate representation of true speed, and how slowing down and speeding up from 60mph continuously throughout this area contributes to unsafe driving conditions. §25.23 3Bii


Higher than Average Fatality Rate

Fatalities in the East Portion of Dripping Springs, 2010-2019.

Fatalities in the East Portion of Dripping Springs, 2010-2019.

fatalities will continue to occur

This image shows the fatalities that have occurred in the East Portion of Dripping Springs from 2010-2019, where the speed limit is currently set at 60mph, despite city-owned land, and a higher population of businesses, residents and turns than The City of Downtown Dripping Springs. This is the exact area where the proposed boundaries for the East Portion of Dripping Springs speed limit would be. The reduced speed limit would start at Trautwein and end at or right past Nutty Brown Road at the Hays County Line.

There have been 6 accidents involving fatalities from Trautwein to Nutty Brown Road, and 9 if you include the area immediately before. If our recommendations are followed and the speed limit remains reduced past Cedar Valley Shopping Center into Travis County, there have been 13 fatal accidents. This is over a 5 mile stretch of highway. For comparison, SH71 near Bee Cave Galleria has had 5 fatal accidents in the past 9 years when you compare similar mileage. We have had more than double the amount of fatalities.


In Summary

Due to all of the circumstances mentioned, we are asking TXDOT: how can you defend the current speed of 60mph? What threshold must the East Portion of Dripping Springs meet for TXDOT to lower the speed limit to reduce fatality and injury rate? How can TXDOT say that a 60mph is in the best interest of our communities safety and well being?

We are asking TXDOT to either lower the speed limit to a more acceptable speed like we encounter in Downtown Dripping Springs, or to defend their current position on the speed limit, in depth, by answering the following questions with specific data that supports their decision.

Should you choose not to reduce the speed limit to an acceptable speed, please detail for us how this choice is, without a doubt, the safest choice for our residents.

We are requesting a formal answer on this matter that can be delivered publicly by August 1, 2019. We are hoping that we can work together to make our community safer.

Question 1

How does TXDOT defend 60mph as an acceptable speed limit when you take into consideration the population density, business density and turn density in the Eastern Portion of Dripping Springs?

Question 3

How does TXDOT defend 60mph as an acceptable speed limit when you consider the population growth in the area and projected population?

Question 2

How does TXDOT defend 60mph as an acceptable speed limit with the accidents in this area having a higher than average injury rate and fatality rate than comparable areas?

question 4

What accountability will TXDOT take for the fatalities and severe accidents that occur in this area in the future? Should those fatalities or injuries have been prevented at a 45mph speed limit, how does TXDOT plan to respond to the victims?

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290 Safety Coalition

Are you wondering how you can help get involved? It’s easier than you think.

Sign the petition

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