Fatality keeps focus on US 183 concerns



Just two months after a four-vehicle collision claimed two lives, another fatal collision on US 183, north of State Highway 29, has claimed another.

On Sunday, 18-year-old Sihyeon Ryo Stephans of Copperas Cove was killed when her vehicle swerved off the road while heading northbound, then swerved into oncoming traffic and was struck by another vehicle.

On March 21, Austin residents Norman Hashim Burton, 48, and passenger Theresa Burton, 79, both died at the scene of a collision about four miles north of SH 29.

The stretch of US 183 from SH 29 to the Burnet County line is being studied by Williamson County officials, with a pair of public meetings held in 2017 to gather input and share potential options for improving traffic flow and safety on the highway.

In a statement issued this week, the county said it is “now focusing its efforts on identifying and addressing safety issues along the corridor.”

Meetings are being planned with Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department, the Williamson County Emergency Medical Services Department, and area school districts.

In a survey accompanying the public meetings in 2017, 84 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that traffic congestion on the corridor had worsened over time. In the same survey, 82 percent of respondents said any proposed improvements should minimize the impact on area neighborhoods.

The speed limit on US 183 was lowered from 70 to 65 miles per hour and traffic lights were installed to help protect drivers turning on to and off of the highway at some intersections.

One stretch of the highway, from .2 miles north of Live Oak Drive to .2 miles south of CR 212 is set to be widened with a continuous center turn lane and shoulders, according to TxDOT. The project is scheduled to begin in May 2020 and has a budget of $1.3 million.