Travis County bond may add to regional transportation, drainage projects

Commissioners debated the need for a groundwater conservation district in Southwest Travis County at a meeting on Feb. 20.

Commissioners debated the need for a groundwater conservation district in Southwest Travis County at a meeting on Feb. 20.

Travis County voters will head to the polls in November to weigh the need for improvement projects in a nearly $185 million bond package.


That total does not include $94.9 million in appropriations for locally funded county projects that do not require voter approval. The combined allocation of $279.8 million would fund specific projects to help the county’s transportation, park and roadway safety issues as well as project management costs, which account for roughly 10 percent of the total.


In Southwest Austin projects include improvements to the Onion Creek Greenway, six bicycle safety projects, drainage improvements, and roadway safety and capacity projects.


Creating the bond package

In February the county appointed a 15-member citizens bond advisory committee to identify the concerns of county constituents. Based on community input, the committee put together a proposal of its top-priority projects.


County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said she was pleased with the committee’s focus on safety and how it guided the committee in determining the county’s needs.


“The committee did something really unique,” Eckhardt said. “They defined safety for themselves, and they kept coming back to that safety definition. If it was a roadway that had a demonstrated history of collisions, they moved it to a safety project. If it was a flooding issue, they moved it to a safety project.”


The committee viewed the bond package as primarily addressing the needs of Travis County’s unincorporated areas that are not within any city’s limits. The committee also aimed to achieve some level of equity among the four precincts while acknowledging that most of Precinct 2, which covers a portion of Pflugerville and stretches through Wells Branch and over to Lake Travis, is within the city limits of Austin, and Precinct 1, which covers the eastern portion of the county from Del Valle all the way to Pflugerville, has been historically underserved.


Committee Vice Chairman John Langmore said his group tried to provide a fair balance among all four precincts but felt the majority of improvements should be concentrated on the east side of the county.


“We toured eastern Travis County extensively and saw great needs that exist out there and felt that it was time to make some changes that maybe should have been made a while back,” Langmore said.



Projects to improve safety and flooding in Sw Austin


A total of $93.4 million in bond funds is allocated toward countywide transportation improvements.


Precinct 4, which covers a portion of Southwest Austin and Onion Creek, is projected to receive over $46 million in bond funding for roadway safety projects, including drainage improvements.


Commissioner Margaret Gomez of Precinct 4 said her priority is the safety of residents during flooding season.


“Precinct 4 needs to address drainage and roads so people can drive in and out of their homes safely and school buses can get through without fear of getting stuck during floods,” Gomez said.


Gomez said she hopes solving the drainage issues upstream will help reduce flood risk in Onion Creek. Gomez hopes implementing roadway and drainage improvements, such as along Elroy Road, will help her finalize an emergency evacuation plan.


Precinct 3, which covers Southwest Austin as well as the Lake Travis and Westlake areas, is slated for over
$16 million in roadway safety and drainage improvements.


Roadway safety is important for southwestern Travis County residents, but there are other priorities in the area that could be addressed as well, Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty said.


“Unfortunately we do have some areas that inhibit us from going across low water crossings [during floods]; one is Pedernales Canyon Trail, but there are not very many people [living] on that side of that roadway,” Daugherty said. “I want to look at things like that to determine if monies could be spent, in my opinion, more appropriately.”


The transportation bond improvement funds also include a total of $26.6 million in bicycle safety projects and another $31.7 million for roadway capacity projects, or improvements to roads that have a high accident rate. In Southwest Austin, $26 million will go toward the former and $12.9 million toward the latter.


Onion Creek residents will see an alleviation of traffic from the improvements to South Pleasant Valley Road, a county thoroughfare, but former homeowners association board member Kathy Pillmore said she is concerned about how the growth in the area will affect the roadway improvements.


Bella Fortuna is a mixed-use development that will include a 600-home subdivision with a commercial element on Bradshaw Road between FM 1327 and River Plantation Drive. Two charter schools accommodating 1,100 students will be housed on the Wayside Schools campus, slated to open on Bradshaw in fall 2018. Four other residential neighborhoods, including Onion Creek, abut and use Bradshaw as an ingress and egress to Slaughter Lane and FM 1327, which both have access to I-35.


“[Improvements to South Pleasant Valley Road] will help relieve some traffic over there,” Pillmore said. “[Bradshaw Road] is not a safe road anyway.”


Although the Onion Creek neighborhood will not see a major impact from bond package projects, she said residents understand the need for improvements in other parts of the county and hope to see Onion Creek improvement projects in the city of Austin’s potential bond.


The bond package also includes $91.5 million in park improvements.


In Southwest Austin, improvements totaling $10.6 million were proposed for the Onion Creek Greenway.



Call for the bond


The final list of projects was approved Aug. 8 by commissioners in a 4-1 vote, with Daugherty dissenting. Daugherty said his decision to vote against the project list was due to the lack of spending flexibility. On Aug. 15,  a bond election was called by commissioners in a 4-0 vote to take place Nov. 7. Daugherty was absent.

SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

The first two Proterra electric buses arrived in Austin, and Capital Metro will roll them out in late January. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
Capital Metro starts electrifying its transit fleet; first 2 electric buses go into service Jan. 26

Capital Metro will roll out the first two electric buses in late January.

A photo of latte art.
Summer Moon Coffee to open at Circle C Ranch

A new coffee shop is set to open in a previous South Austin location of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Austin City Council is considering an end to enforcement of low level marijuana possession laws. (SHELBY SAVAGE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER)
Support grows among Austin City Council members who want to end local penalties for low-level marijuana possession

If successful, the Austin Police Department would no longer hand out arrests or citations for possession of marijuana with no intent to distribute.

Delays have pushed back completion of the much-anticipated Bee Creek Sports Complex to spring 2022. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Utility and other hurdles delay Bee Creek Sports Complex

Though it was initially planned to be ready for play by 2020, delays pertaining to construction and, more specifically, to water service, have pushed the completion date of the much-anticipated Bee Creek Sports Complex to spring 2022.

zanjero park water
Travis County commissioners pursue easement to bring water to Las Lomitas subdivision

Travis County commissioners are working to address colonias—unincorporated areas in the county that lack basic utilities.

Austin Public Health is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the first case of the contagious viral infection in Travis County since 1999. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Austin Public Health confirms city’s first rubella case since 1999

Austin Public Health is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the first case of the contagious viral infection in Travis County since 1999.

Travis County commissioners will receive preliminary estimates for a new peace officer step pay scale at their Jan. 28 meeting. (Courtesy Travis County Sheriff's Office)
Travis County commissioners consider revisions to peace office pay

Travis County commissioners are considering options that will revise the pay scale for peace officers, including law enforcement, corrections and park rangers.

A photo of the exterior of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Austin.
Baylor Scott & White's Austin Medical Center opens in Oak Hill

Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Austin opened its doors Jan. 15.

Texas oil and gas industry could see a major slowdown in 2020

The oil and natural gas industry paid a record-setting $16.3 billion in taxes and royalties to local governments and the state in 2019, the Texas Oil and Gas Association announced Tuesday.

A photo of a sign that reads "Visit Historic Dripping Springs."
Dripping Springs City Council tangles with parking solutions for historic downtown

Council members stressed the need for long-term downtown parking solutions at their Jan. 14 meeting.

Commuters arrive at downtown Austin's lone light rail stop. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
With unveiling of 'transformational' transit proposal, support for urban rail grows among Austin leaders

Before voting on a multibillion-dollar bond referendum coming in November, the community will have to choose between an urban rail or bus transit system.

A photo of the facade of Hill Country Healing Haven.
New acupuncture clinic Hill Country Healing Haven open in Dripping Springs

A new center for acupuncture and wellness now operates in Dripping Springs.

Back to top