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Safety improvements are coming to a 2.5-mile stretch of U.S. 281 sooner rather than later.

The Texas Department of Transportation has secured $5.6 million through its safety grant program to begin work on 281 from the Texas 71 interchange to the Burnet-Blanco county line.

That part of the highway has long been a concern for local officials due to the number of accidents, some fatal.

One particular issue for Burnet County commissioners is the lack of a center turn lane, especially as more businesses pop up along that stretch of 281.

That is now on the way, and work will begin in late 2020 instead of late 2021 as originally planned.

“This is really good news at a time when good news is hard to find,” said Burnet County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery in a media release. “This is an important safety project, and I appreciate TxDOT finding a way to expedite it.”

Crews will add a continuous 14-foot center turn lane and widen the travel lanes to 12 feet. The plan also includes creating 10-foot-wide shoulders on both sides of the highway.

Currently, this undivided stretch of 281 has four 11-foot lanes.

“The improvements will provide more space between vehicles and allow drivers who wish to turn left a safe place to do so out of the regular traffic lanes,” said Cathy Kranz, TxDOT Burnet area engineer. “In addition, the shoulders will allow motorists a place to pull over in case of an emergency.”