Photo by Gene Davis
After months of delay caused by the moving of utility lines, construction started in September on the intersection of Bee Caves Road and Red Bud Trail.
The $1.4 million project is adding a center turn lane on Bee Caves Road. Texas Department of Transportation spokesman John Hurt said the center turn lane will ease traffic and improve safety.
“Without that left-turn lane, that traffic has to sit there,” Hurt said. “It backs up cars behind it. This provides [drivers] with a safe place to get out of the way of traffic while they are waiting to make a left turn. Plus it relieves the congestion of the cars sitting there waiting to make the left turn.”
Hurt said not having a turn lane at a busy intersection can be dangerous as drivers sometimes try to drive around a stopped car trying to turn left.
“Congestion mitigation and safety are the two driving forces for this,” he said.
The center turn lane will also provide a designated area for drivers to turn left into St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 5455 Bee Caves Road. St. John Neumann administrator Joanne Senn said wrecks at the intersection have been happening more frequently and that a church parishioner was T-boned while leaving after a morning Mass.
“We couldn’t be more blessed,” she said of the added turn lane. “I make that turn every day myself, and it’s just a death trap.”
The project was selected for funding by the Capital Area of Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Most of the construction and any lane closures will be done from 8 p.m.–5 a.m., which should minimally affect traffic, Hurt said. Construction should be finished by the end of the year, Hurt said.
“Any inconvenience from construction will be well worth it,” Senn said.
West Lake Hills City Administrator Robert Wood said the increase of traffic in West Lake Hills makes expanding Bee Caves Road necessary. While West Lake Hills’ population has not significantly increased since the city is almost fully built-out, the growth of the surrounding area has led to more cars in the city, he said.
Wood said he is hopeful TxDOT will fund a project to build a center turn lane from Buckeye Trail to Blue Ridge Trail. The intersection improvement project, which is currently unfunded, would add turn lanes to major Bee Caves Road intersections such as Westlake Drive and Camp Craft Road.
“It would be the same idea [as the Red Bud intersection], to improve the safety and flow of traffic,” he said.