Public provides input on Williams Drive

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The city of Georgetown and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization hosted a weeklong planning and design meeting in November to identify issues and possible solutions along the Williams Drive corridor with community members.

The process, known as a charrette, included several meetings with area stakeholders and residents as part of the city’s Williams Drive Study.

geo-2016-12-11“We had some good conversations with the stakeholders,” Georgetown Project Coordinator Andreina Davila said. “We received some really great ideas, some good input and feedback from the community, and that really got our minds going on the possibilities for Williams Drive.’”

The comprehensive study, which began this summer, is focused on multimodal transportation, land use, economic development, housing and the environment along the Williams corridor from Austin Avenue to Jim Hogg Road.

The study could help determine how to improve traffic and economic development in the corridor, which is a gateway to the Greater Austin area, CAMPO Senior Multimodal Planner Kelly Porter said.

The study is the first of CAMPO’s Platinum Planning Program, which is a bottom-up approach to planning in the region, Porter said.

The organization coordinates regional transportation planning and the distribution of federal transportation funding in Central Texas.

About 29,000 vehicles use the four-lane roadway near its intersection with I-35 daily, Davila said.

Lee Einsweiler, a principal at Austin-based Code Studio who helped with the charrette, said because the 6 1/2-mile corridor was made up of different sections with different design and development standards, there was no one-size-fits-all fix for the corridor.

During the charrette residents were able to participate in a variety of activities to help determine ways to improve transportation in the corridor, including outlining where bike lanes or wider sidewalks were needed.

The weeklong meeting also gave stakeholders the chance to discuss economic development opportunities along Williams, including possible uses for the former McCoy Elementary School campus, which is still owned by Georgetown ISD.

Ideas that were discussed also included converting portions of the roadway’s continuous center turn lane into raised medians to help address concerns about drivers using the turn lane as an acceleration lane or waiting point to merge into traffic.

Georgetown Principal Planner Jordan Maddox said a lot of public comment was about pedestrian connections through neighborhoods adjacent to the corridor as well as pedestrian and bicycle safety along the roadway, which could include widening sidewalks and creating bike lanes along some portions of the corridor.

The ideas and concepts presented at the completion of the charrette will be refined through further discussions with city staff to determine which projects are feasible before being presented to City Council, Davila said.

“It’s also seeing how we can [implement this]incrementally. We know everything is not going to be done at one time,” Davila said. “It’s how we can do it over the next five, 10, 15 or 20 years.”

A draft plan is expected to be presented in a public meeting this spring before going to City Council for adoption, Davila said.

For residents who were unable to attend the charrette, Davila said there are still opportunities to be involved and give the city feedback on the study.

“As we start refining those concepts and making them into actual recommendations, [we want the public]to continue to be involved with that so we can make recommendations that are implementable,” she said.

For more information on the study, visit www.transportation.georgetown.org/williams-drive.

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