HOUSTON - Tight lanes, changing routes and 40 fatal crashes in five years. KHOU 11 News took a closer look at U.S. 290 construction following a fatal accident Sunday night near Fairbanks North Houston.
Yousef Abdulla’s collision shop, Houston Auto Tech, clears accidents along all 38 miles of U.S. 290 construction. Since construction started in 2011, his business has been working at full tilt.
“290 is very tough. There’s no shoulders, they’re changing them all the time constantly,” Abdulla said. "One week this is open; the next week it’s closed.”
In total, the project will cost $2.4 billion and it’s expected to finish in late 2017. In 2010, the year before construction started, five people died traveling the U.S. 290 construction route. In 2011, the death toll doubled.
KHOU 11 News questioned Sergeant Stephen Woodard with the Texas Highway Patrol to find out why Highway 290 traffic deaths increased and what drivers need to do to arrive alive and safe.
“I recommend personnel leave from your home or wherever your beginning point is earlier and have patience,” Sgt. Woodard said. “Because not only are we having fatalities up on 290, but we’re also having road rage incidents.”
Construction will go on for more than another year, but the number of fatal accidents has been declining since construction started. Still, the number of serious accidents continues to keep Abdulla’s tow trucks on the highway.
“I have and my subcontractor has 15 tow trucks and we dedicate most of those tow trucks on 290 to take care of it the best we can,” Abdulla said.
A Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson says its engineers are following federal and state guidelines including temporary signage, pavement markings and lane widths during construction.
In 2015, 17 people died driving I-45. That’s the most deaths out of all Texas highways. Five people died traveling on U.S. 290 during the same time.