AASHTO Journal, 17 August 2012
An initiative by the Texas Department of Transportation is making drivers safer while also saving millions of dollars, just by widening some of its roads.
TxDOT’s roadway widening initiative has added new shoulders to increase width on roughly 1,160 miles of the state’s rural, two-lane highways throughout the last few years. The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), after analyzing years of data from before and after the road widening improvements, found there were 133 fewer fatalities and 895 fewer injuries after the widening than on those same roads before the improvements. TTI estimates that these projects will potentially save up to 44 lives per year, or 880 lives over a 20-year span, and also prevent 298 injuries each year (or 5,960 over that 20-year period).
Funding for the improvements was approved by Texas voters in 2003 when they voted to give the Texas Transportation Commission authority to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund state highway improvements, with the stipulation that 20 percent of that money would be used for projects that reduced crashes or improved especially hazardous locations. Soon after voters approved the measure, the Texas Legislature increased the bonding authority to $6 billion, which covered the $29 million cost for the total 37 widening projects. Through that same 20-year life span of the project, TTI estimates a savings of $456.4 million from the reduction in fatalities and serious injuries.
“Safety is our top priority,” said TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson in a statement. “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.”