No changes planned for SH 29

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

Following a fatal collision in November, many in the community again began wondering what could be done to make State Highway 29 safer for drivers as the road through Liberty Hill sees increased traffic flow.

The collision, which occurred when a vehicle attempted to make a turn from CR 214 and was struck in the intersection by a second vehicle traveling westbound, resulted in one fatality.

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Spokesman Chris Bishop said the intersection of CR 214 and SH 29 was not chosen for a signal due to the location of existing signals.

“The intersection of SH 29 and CR 214 was considered too close to the existing traffic signal at SH 29 and RR 1869 to be a viable location for a traffic signal,” he said. “State Highway 29 and Bronco Boulevard was chosen as the next location for a traffic signal, in order to maintain adequate spacing for traffic progression through the corridor.”

Bishop confirmed in February that a traffic signal was being planned for the intersection of Highway 29 and Bronco Boulevard, at the entrance to Sundance Estates.

A study of the intersection was conducted last year, according to Bishop, and the intersection met three of the 14 possible warrants for signalization, all three regarding traffic volumes and delays.

The signal is currently being designed and is expected to go out for bid as part of a signal construction contract to be awarded in May 2019. Once the bid is awarded, the contractor will have 300 days to complete work on all signals included in the contract, so work on the signal at Highway 29 and Bronco Boulevard is expected to be between the summer of 2019 and spring of 2020.

No cost estimate is available for the project as it is in the design phase.

The City of Liberty Hill asked TxDOT to lower the speed limit on SH 29, which is currently 55 through the city, but following a traffic count, TxDOT said the speed limit would not be reduced.

“TxDOT has been very cooperative in working with the City,” said City Secretary Barbara Zwernemann. “Their findings indicated no changes right now based on the criteria approved by the State and used across Texas. TxDOT conducts ongoing traffic studies on Highway 29 and they will continue to do so.”

According to Liberty Hill Police Chief Maverick Campbell, there have been 59 collisions on SH 29 from November 2017 to November 2018 that required a peace officer’s crash report. He added that number did not include minor crashes, unreported collisions or those handled by other agencies.

“I do support speed limit being lowered, and the city does, too,” Campbell said. “From a traffic safety standpoint typical drivers are exceeding the speed limit, which is 55.”

But he added that increased traffic and other factors also play into the increased danger.

“There’s a lot of growth in the community,” Campbell said. “With more traffic and driver decisions such as speeding and inattentive driving, that leads to the increase in collisions. Putting a traffic light there is up to TxDOT and what they decide to do. That intersection specifically is a matter of people just being patient, and it is not a good place to drive straight across.”

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