Texas highways are now safer following numerous widening projects, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

The group says that hundreds of projects to add shoulders and width on more than 1,000 miles of rural, two-lane highways have made them much safer.

The Texas Transportation Institute estimates that these projects could save up to 44 lives each year, or 880 lives over 20 years. They also believe that the projects can prevent 298 injuries, or 5,960 injuries over the same time period.

TTI also analyzed three years of pre-and-post improvement data on more than a thousand miles of two-lane highways that had been widened, and there were 133 fewer fatalities and 895 fewer injuries after the projects.

“The agency’s roadway widening initiative has been a tremendous success, both for increasing safety on Texas highways and potentially saving billions of dollars associated with fatal crashes and sustained injuries,” said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director.

Voters gave the Texas Transportation Commission the authority to issue $3 billion in bonds to pay for state highway improvements in 2003. Twenty percent of that amount was required to be used on projects that would reduce crashes or improve hazardous locations. The Texas Legislature later increased the bond authority to $6 billion.

Among the 37 completed widening projects from the 2009 safety bond initiative, the $29 million construction cost could save an estimated $456.4 million from fewer fatalities and serious injuries over a 20-year period.

More widening projects on highways across the state can be expected.