Editor’s note: The original headline of this post read “Steiner Ranch residents oppose possible evacuation route” While the text in the article is accurate, several readers found the headline misleading. To clarify, Steiner Ranch residents do not oppose an evacuation route in general, but they do oppose the proposed permanent Route F.
Hundreds of people have signed an online petition protesting a proposed permanent evacuation route through the Steiner Ranch neighborhood county officials are calling Route F.
“The petition is to show Travis County that [the]majority of people that would be affected by route F as a permanent road do NOT want it,” language within the petition, which went live Feb. 10, states.
The person who created the petition did not want to be identified nor comment, but so far more than 700 people have signed the online document.
Arguments against the route and within the petition also state the proposed throughway is a safety issue for children, would disrupt wildlife habitats and trails by cutting through a greenbelt, would run alongside an area park and would negatively impact home values.
The evacuation route in Steiner Ranch is a capital improvement project led by Travis County. Information on Travis County’s website dedicated to the project states Route F may be designed for continuous public use, meaning it could become a permanent road and not a temporary evacuation route intended to remain closed except during emergency conditions as directed by emergency services.
Brad Stanton, vice president of the Steiner Ranch Master Association Homeowners Association Board, said in January Travis County commissioned a study from a private company for roughly $600,000 looking into the best options for an evacuation route, but the county decided to extend the study to look into a permanent road.
County representatives met with Steiner Ranch residents Dec. 11 and zeroed in on the permanent F route option as one of the best options among several in the subdivision.
Travis County listed several benefits to Route F, including that it is the most direct route; has the fastest exit time to RM 620; and has support from entities, such as Lake Travis Fire Rescue, Leander ISD and the Travis County Sheriff’s Department.
It was an option that caught residents off guard during the December meeting, and a subsequent meeting with Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea saw about 95 percent of resident feedback to be against the permanent F route, Stanton said.
Information from Travis County estimates Route F comes with a price tag of about $7.2 million, but Stanton said many Steiner Ranch residents are skeptical that amount would turn out much higher.
As the HOA vice president and representative for the Steiner Ranch subdivision’s District 2, which is the area impacted by Route F, Stanton said he opposes the permanent route and is waiting on Travis County to schedule another meeting with residents.
Senior Engineer for Travis County Kathy Hardin said a traffic study of the area began Jan. 30. Based on a schedule issued Feb. 5 by the project consultant, Travis County representatives hope to have a draft of the study by mid-March and a finalized report by March 28, Hardin said.
A consultant is still working on the site planning for Route F, she said, adding there are also two other routes still on the table.
Hardin said the schedule is fluid, and dates are subject to change, and the next planned open house to speak with the Steiner Ranch community has been delayed until after the end of March. County officials will not know more specifically when that open house will take place until they have a final draft of the traffic report, she said.
To view a Travis County-generated rendering of Route F as well as the other two routes still being considered, click here.