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$2.4M request submitted for safety upgrades at Texas 71-CR 401 intersection

Texas 71-CR 401 intersection

Looking southeast from the intersection of County Road 401 and Texas 71 in Spicewood, a driver can barely see approaching cars where the speed limit is 70 mph toward U.S. 281 in Marble Falls. Visuals were a little better than usual when this photo was taken at noon Nov. 23 because county workers cut the grass that morning. Staff photo by Alecia Ormsby

A $2.4 million request for a left-turn lane and other safety improvements at the intersection of Texas 71 and County Road 401 in Spicewood has been officially submitted by the Texas Department of Transportation for consideration, announced Burnet County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery. The county should know if the money has been awarded within the next three months. The money will come through the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program.  

Dockery presented TxDOT with a resolution signed by the other three commissioners and County Judge James Oakley, along with 15 pages of printed comments from the public about the risk of turning in or out of the intersection without a left-turn lane. 

If granted, the $2.4 million will be used to install a 14-foot-wide continuous-turn lane with 10-foot shoulders for three-fourths of a mile in each direction from the intersection. The county should learn sometime in the first three months of this year whether the money has been awarded. 

“The improvements requested will provide drivers who wish to turn left a safe place to do so out of the regular traffic lanes,” said Cathy Kratz, the Burnet-area engineer for TxDOT. 

A work order issued by TxDOT in November 2021 will add vertical flashing signs on the roadsides on both approaches that says “Warning Signal Ahead.”

“They (will be) at eye level on the approach to the intersection,” Dockery said. “ … Flashing lights hanging over the road at the intersection have been there awhile.”

TxDOT crews were on site Dec. 29 to install the signs but ran into trouble in the form of dolomite. 

“They are now creating a plan to drill through the rock in order to finish the job,” according to a TxDOT spokesperson. “Don’t have a date set yet for this drilling.”

Any changes to the intersection must involve both Burnet County and TxDOT. 

“This intersection is a merge of the state highway system with our county road system, and we have to work in partnership with TxDOT to do all we can to ensure public safety,” Dockery said. “TxDOT has always worked with us in close collaboration, and this is another example of their willingness to address an important situation. Judge Oakley and I will continue to advocate for this project and hope it will be funded in its entirety.”