BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — People who live near SH 21E call it the ‘Aggie Autobahn, ’ referencing the high speeds cars travel as they make their way to and from College Station. The speed limit along the highway reaches 70 mph, too fast for the highway without turn lanes, say those who live nearby.
The day before Thanksgiving, 20-year-old Sarah Yager from Buda was killed when an 18-wheeler hit her pickup north of Bastrop. The Hays Consolidated Independent School District said Yager was the Hays High School valedictorian in 2012 and was studying mechanical engineering at Texas A&M.
“Since I’ve been here there’s been a couple of accidents, ” said Albert Navarro, who has lived off of Highway 21 near Travis Road for 10 years. “But since they’ve widened the road, all of a sudden, there’s been an influx of accidents occurring here.”
Crash numbers between Power Plant Road and U.S. Highway 290 are on the rise, according to Texas Department of Transportation statistics. Twenty crashes were recorded in 2012 and 33 more occurred last year. There have already been 38 crashes on the stretch of highway this year.
“A turning lane would probably be a big step in the right direction, ” says Navarro, who says something needs to change on what he calls a dangerous road.
“There’s going to be more people killed…bottom line, ” said Jack Walker who lives nearby. “They just need to reduce the speed limit. Save lives and keep people from getting hurt.”
Acadian Ambulance Services in Bastrop told KXAN they responded to 15 crashes on this same stretch of road in November. Nine people in those crashes were taken to the hospital.
“There are loved ones that are involved. Young ones you care a lot about. You just can’t replace that, ” Navarro added.
Earlier this year, TxDOT added four-foot shoulders to SH 21 due to rutting on the highway. The extra space is meant to improve safety. TxDOT is also looking into adding turn lanes, a spokesperson said. Studies have shown artificially reducing the speed, however, can actually increase the amount of crashes, TxDOT added.
The speed limit does vary along parts of the highway. From Power Plant Road to about a mile east of FM 1441, it is set at 60 mph. Continuing east to US 290, the speed limit is 70 mph.
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