Shortly after opening, a Texas superhighway is experiencing serious problems with feral hogs. Weeks after the highway opened with a speed limit of 85 miles per hour, there have been at least three collisions with wild hogs, deer and other wildlife. This 41-mile section of Texas State Highway 130 has the highest speed limit in the nation, but no one expected wildlife and feral hogs to be the road’s top safety concerns.
Officials in Texas are already warning drivers with electronic messages before permanent signs are installed. Unlike other toll roads, this section of Texas Highway 130 is managed by a private company that is responsible for adding signs and other safety features. While the record-setting speed limit has concerned some drivers and safety advocates, wild animals appear to be the road’s most serious threat. Representatives have urged motorists that they don’t need to drive at 85 miles per hour even though it is permitted. It’s still unclear whether hogs and other animals can cause more damage during high-speed collisions. Some officials contend that lowering the speed limit would not prevent collisions with wild hogs.
Wildlife on Highways
Feral hogs aren’t the only problem in this area. One local police officer reported seeing three dead hogs on the road during the first weeks of operation. There was also one report of a collision with a deer. No motorists have been injured during these collisions. Wild hogs are a serious problem in Texas and on the state’s highways. It’s estimated that there are 2 million wild hogs living in Texas. Once mature, these animals can weigh anywhere from 200 to 700 pounds. Because wild hogs threaten the area’s ranches and farms, they can be hunted all year as vermin.
Highway 130 bypasses Austin’s metropolitan area and travels through Caldwell County where hogs are running rampant. This county currently has a $2 bounty per hog to encourage farmers and ranchers to make a small dent in the surging population. During seasons where they are more problematic, the bounty could increase.
Although speed is a deadly factor in many auto accidents, wild animals are a more serious threat. Highway 130 is one of many major roads that are surrounded by wildlife. Collisions with feral hogs are a serious problem throughout Texas. However, the publicity surrounding the speed limit on this section of Highway 130 has increased awareness about wild hogs and how these destructive animals could threaten the nation’s roads. Officials continue to install warning signs and analyze ways to promote driver awareness along Highway 130.