Georgetown officials have deemed the intersection of I-35 and University Avenue near Wolf Ranch Parkway one of the city’s most congested areas.

City leaders attribute the traffic to both the housing and retail developments in the area, including the Wolf Ranch Town Center and Wolf Ranch neighborhood, and growth further west on Hwy. 29.

“It’s really all of the above; you’re seeing a lot of growth in general,” Assistant City Manager Nick Woolery said.

Officials with the city, Williamson County and the Texas Department of Transportation are looking into solutions for the area.

Current situation

Over the years, the intersection of I-35 and Hwy. 29, which is also called University Avenue in Georgetown, near Wolf Ranch Parkway, has seen new retail stores, an influx of residential housing and, as a result, an increase in traffic volumes.

The area continues to develop, with new homes still going up in the Wolf Ranch neighborhood in addition to the 336-unit Varenna Lakeside apartment complex under construction and the recent opening of the Wolf Lakes Village H-E-B.

Officials said another contributing factor is growth along Hwy. 29 between Georgetown and Liberty Hill, where developers are planning to build more than 14,000 homes over the next several years.

“It’s not confined to just Georgetown; it’s not even confined to just these retail developments and even the residential in this area,” Woolery said. “Some of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in the region are to the west of [Georgetown].”

He said the Hwy. 29 and I-35 intersection was not designed for the volume of traffic it sees with annual average daily traffic counts more than doubling from 2003 to 2022, according to TxDOT data.

What they're saying

“We are trying to be as proactive as we can to get additional projects moving. Traffic is an issue here—nobody is denying that,” Woolery said.

“Congestion along the I-35 corridor and at key east-west intersections, like this one, will continue to increase unless we do something about it,” said Bradley Wheelis, Texas Department of Transportation communications director.

“I’ll be stopped from Aldi all the way to H-E-B, just gridlock. ... There should be some kind of infrastructure for the amount of people here,” Georgetown resident Joshua Pickering, said.

Zooming in

In 2022, an average of 32,992 drivers moved through the intersection of I-35 and Hwy. 29, a 103.7% increase compared to 16,200 in 2003, according to data from TxDOT.

Since then, the Wolf Ranch Town Center development opened, the Wolf Ranch master-planned community came online and, most recently in 2023, the H-E-B and Ascension Medical Group facility opened in Wolf Lakes Village.

Wolf Lakes Village was always intended to be a pretty dense development,” Woolery said.

Transportation Manager Lua Saluone said peak commute times in this area are during the morning from 7-9 a.m. and in the evening from 4-6 p.m.

Georgetown resident Joshua Pickering said traffic at this intersection during the evenings is “absolutely rancid.”

“If [the city doesn’t] widen [that road] before it’s too late, it will be impossible to get across town,” he said.

What else?

While traffic can get jammed at the intersection, officials said the number of accidents per year is relatively low. In about a 10-year period, the highest number of traffic accidents was 54 in 2020. Saluone said, from a safety standpoint, this stretch of road is well-built.

“You might not always be able to flow through here quickly, but typically, you actually don’t see a lot of accidents in this area,” he said.

What to expect

To add capacity to the road and improve mobility, officials are planning to widen a portion of Hwy. 29 near Wolf Ranch Parkway from a divided roadway with four lanes to one with six lanes. Saluone said construction is planned to start in fall 2025.

City staff will also widen Wolf Ranch Parkway from Hwy. 29 to Rivery Boulevard, making it four lanes with a median. A timeline is not yet available for this project.

TxDOT Communications Director Bradley Wheelis said a feasibility study of Hwy. 29 from Georgetown to Bertram will start in late 2024 to assess possible improvements.