Traffic biggest topic in mayor's State of Lakeway address

Lakeway Mayor Sandy Cox delivers her second State of Lakeway address Thursday, Jan. 24 at City Hall.

Lakeway Mayor Sandy Cox delivers her second State of Lakeway address Thursday, Jan. 24 at City Hall.

Lakeway Mayor Sandy Cox delivered her second State of Lakeway address since being elected last May, and she covered a range of topics before a full City Hall chamber.

Cox began with Lakeway’s comprehensive plan, calling it the city’s playbook for the next 10-20 years. Demographic shifts and population growth have been critical to understand as officials craft strategies to tackle the issues within the plan, she said.

During the Jan. 24 address, Cox also discussed an extensive survey officials sent out at the end of 2018 that sought to take the pulse of residents on topics ranging from communications preferences to how they feel about city parks.

That first survey is the jumping-off point for a more specific second survey coming to citizens in February, which will be accessible through the city’s newsletter, website and social media, she said.

Cox also discussed the Heritage Committee, which she said has been hard at work digitizing records and working to get funding, among other laborious tasks.

Cox then shifted gears to the topic of transportation issues and discussed the widening of RM 620 and other large projects.

“Anyone here think we don’t have a traffic problem?” Cox joked, adding the city is looking at the problem from near-term, mid-term and long-term perspectives.

The long-term projects stretch to about the year 2040, and planning for that involves creative ways of getting people off RM 620 without building rising infrastructure, she said.

Cox also discussed traffic safety and the city’s role in helping mitigate those problems, including working with TxDOT officials to find the best solutions to everyday hazards. Solutions such as traffic counts will help ease the problem, and connectivity pertaining to traffic is another priority for the city, she said.

“We need to improve RM 620, but how do we improve our own roads?” Cox said, adding the city will need to spend some money, but traffic is the single biggest issue in Lakeway, so council is spending a lot of time on the problem.

Cox also discussed how to solve workforce solutions in the area, saying no one can fix the issue on their own, and it will take communities, business leaders and city officials coming together to find solutions.

Cox also touched on resident frustrations with onerous and outdated ordinances. City officials are going through those and trying to establish the best way to change the culture of code enforcement to code compliance, which she said was an important distinction.

“We’re trying to find that balance,” she said.

After about 25 minutes, Cox opened up the floor to questions. Residents asked about the Square on Lohmans, a major multiuse development that has been a long time in the making for Lakeway. Cox said the essence of the project has evolved from something that started to be like the Domain in North Austin to a development that is more residential.

“It’s been scaled down considerably from this time last year,” Cox said, adding residents and officials will know more as upcoming meetings take place.

Citizen questions concerned the city’s approach to rapid city growth, problems with municipal utility districts and the completion of the Lakeway Police Department building, which Cox said should be open by April.

A repeating topic emerged in the form of a potential ferry on Lake Travis, an idea Cox initially brought up during her talk as a foray into discussing Lakeway’s workforce issues.

Other citizen concerns involved the new $23.5 million Bee Creek Sports Complex, upcoming events in Lakeway and ways residents can volunteer for city initiatives moving forward.

"We're tackling very large, very complex issues that we can't just solve overnight," Cox said. "I think the success of this community is the people in this community."
By Brian Rash

Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.


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