A road extension intended to help residents of a neighborhood west of Georgetown city limits evacuate quickly during flooding events was approved Tuesday at Williamson County Commissioners Court, much to the chagrin of some of the subdivision’s neighbors.
The approved road extension will also serve as a relief route for emergency management services traveling into and out of the area, county staff said. The project will consist of extending Oak Haven Circle by 0.3 miles to Windridge Cove.
The five-member commission voted, 3-2, to approve the road extension. County Judge Dan Gattis and Precinct One Commissioner Terry Cook voted in opposition.
County staff has wanted for years to make the area more accessible to emergency services, especially during floods. However, the plan has been unpopular with residents of the Cedar Hollow subdivision and surrounding neighborhoods who have been concerned about the possibility of increased traffic, the potential of decreased property values and an aversion to the county using eminent domain to secure land for the road extension.
County staff estimated the project will cost about $500,000 and will include culvert work on Lost River Boulevard, which will be paid from the county’s road and bridge budget fund. Williamson County commissioners voted Aug. 29 to approve the county’s fiscal year 2017-18 budget.
The county looked into other options for the relief route, including construction of a bridge that would prevent the need for eminent domain. However, county staff estimated a bridge could cost about $2.5 million to build and would take longer to complete than a road extension.
Precinct Two Commissioner Cynthia Long, who is a Houston native, said the devastation brought to her hometown by Hurricane Harvey led her to hasten her decision to approve the road extension.
“Two weeks ago when we talked about this, I was contemplating, ‘Let’s wait and see, let’s put a bridge on a potential bond election to see if that [could work]—and then Harvey came,” Long said. “When I have a cost-effective solution in front of me that we can do relatively quickly, I can’t have it on my conscience to say we ignored a solution that could potentially be life-saving.”
Gattis said the next step in the process will be for county staff to proceed with the design of the road.