Leander residents see water outages as 183A Toll Phase 3 construction progresses

The 183A Toll Phase 3 construction project has caused water outages on three occasions since breaking ground in April. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
The 183A Toll Phase 3 construction project has caused water outages on three occasions since breaking ground in April. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)

The 183A Toll Phase 3 construction project has caused water outages on three occasions since breaking ground in April. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)

Less than two months after moving into his new home in the Leander neighborhood of Wildleaf, Spencer Blanden was filling his bathtub with water. The uncertainty of losing water without notice necessitated the precaution.

“We noticed like two days after we moved into the house that the water had been shut off, and we were confused, like, 'What's going on?'” said Blanden, who moved into the neighborhood in June. “What happened was, and I looked in the Wildleaf [Facebook] page, every single person in our neighborhood didn't have water.”

Blanden, whose neighborhood uses water from Georgetown, later learned the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s 183A Toll Phase 3 construction, a 6.6-mile segment, had damaged the water line.

As a part of that construction project, Georgetown spokesperson Keith Hutchinson said in an email that the Mobility Authority is relocating a water line located in the 183A Toll median that serves customers in the western part of its water utility service area.

According to the city of Georgetown, there were three outages since construction began. One of the outages impacted 250 residents for around six hours June 16 and another 193 customers for around 11 hours July 12.


Prior to construction, the Mobility Authority identified water line locations, according to a Mobility Authority spokesperson.

“Despite these proactive measures, there are times when field crews encounter unidentified or misidentified utilities,” the spokesperson said in an email. "The installation of what is now the city of Georgetown Water Utility system was done by others, and the plans indicating [the] expected location were, unfortunately, not entirely accurate.”

The plans the Mobility Authority used to identify water line locations came from the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District, which Georgetown acquired in 2014.

Prior to digging, the Mobility Authority marked the utility lines and have now taken the “additional step of having the specialty subcontractor locate the line at certain locations by physically exposing it,” according to a Mobility Authority spokesperson.

Since damaging the water line, the Mobility Authority has hired a subcontractor, Badger, that specializes in utility locations and is working on updating the utility map to help prevent future line breaks.

Hutchinson said the contractor has started using a vacuum excavation technique “to better identify location of existing waterline to reduce the chances of line breaks during the construction process.”

The Mobility Authority awarded a $175.7 million contract to The Lane Construction Corp. for construction of the new toll segment in September 2020.

Construction on the 183A Toll project, which broke ground in April, is 13.6% complete, said Mike Sexton, acting Mobility Authority director of engineering, during an Aug. 25 Mobility Authority board meeting.

In addition to work on utilities, construction thus far has also included preparing right of way, building bridge substructures and erosion control.

As for Blanden, he understands construction is a part of life in the fast-growing suburb. Nonetheless, he said he would have appreciated some acknowledgement about the water outage beyond his neighborhood Facebook group.

“It's not that big of a deal, but they need to respect that people live here,” Blanden added.
By Benton Graham

Metro Reporter, Austin

Benton joined Community Impact Newspaper as a metro reporter covering transportation in Central Texas in June 2021. Benton's writing has appeared in Vox, The Austin Chronicle, Austonia and Reporting Texas. Originally from Minneapolis, Benton graduated from William & Mary and eventually moved to Austin in 2018.



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