Travis County speeds up progress on 2017 bond work; 3 projects still behind schedule

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In 2017, Travis County voters approved a bond that allowed the county government to take out loans in order to fund transportation and park improvements in the local area.

By September 2018, only 23% of the bond-funded projects were active, meaning they had started the design procurement phase.

The pace of the work has picked up recently, according to staff and consultants who provided a quarterly update on the $301 million program to Travis County commissioners Sept. 3.

Today, 51 of the 59 projects are active, including two that are complete and five that have started construction. Those two completed projects are transportation improvements on the north section of Ross Road and a Wells Branch Parkway study.

Jesse Milner, the chief operating officer of Frontline Consulting, the consulting firm working with the county on the projects, told commissioners Sept. 3 that 12 projects have begun the design phase and 10 have started the design procurement phase since June, which has helped to speed up the process.

In addition, the county turned to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority for help getting projects finished on schedule. The Mobility Authority is managing two active projects in the design and construction phase—transportation projects on Elroy Road and the south portion of Ross Road—and its board will vote in September to finalize an interlocal agreement to begin managing six additional projects.

County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said working with the Mobility Authority was a risk and a “seismic change” for the county from the way it usually operates, but it proved to be a worthwhile decision.

“It’s so gratifying to see change managed so well,” Eckhardt said. “The dividends are really showing.”

Although the majority of programs are scheduled to finish on time—48 are classified as “on schedule” and eight “on a tight schedule”—according to Milner, three projects are still not on track to be finished by the target end date of December 2022.

Those projects are safety improvements to Thaxton Road in Southeast Austin, increased roadway capacity along South Pleasant Valley Road and an extension of Harold Green Boulevard in East Austin.

As work continues on this bond, county staff and commissioners briefly discussed the potential of bringing another bond to voters in 2023.

The Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources Department keeps a list of needed projects that total $1.7 billion, but TNR County Executive Cynthia McDonald said the total that would end up going before voters would be much less.

“It’s a list we keep so the bond committees can go through and pick the most critical [projects]to act on,” McDonald said.

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  1. Karen Seligman

    When is Travis County going to do something about Immanual Rd in East Travis County and Pflugerville! I have lived off of Immanuel Rd for over 19 years and nothing has been done with this road. Traffic has gotten ridiculous! Company’s continue to build homes along Immanuel. That is adding fuel to the fire. Your gonna do a study on Wells Branch Parkway. You just built a new Wells Branch Parkway that intersects with Immanuel Rd. A new Idea school was built at the corner of Wells Branch Prky and Immanuel Rd. It is a circus everyday trying to get through that area. We need a new wider road. Why not do a study on Immanuel Rd. We’ve had the same potholes for over 19 years. I’m sure they have been there longer.

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Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. He graduated in 2011 from Boston University and worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in January of 2018.
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