Leander ISD rallies community to support second access road to Vandegrift HS, Four Points MS

Tuesday's public forum took place at Vandegrift High School's auditorium.

Tuesday's public forum took place at Vandegrift High School's auditorium.

Leander ISD presented a proposal to construct a second access road to Four Points Middle School and Vandegrift High School, as well as a social media campaign to encourage its construction, during a public forum Tuesday night.

Currently, the schools can only be accessed from RR 2222 off McNeil Drive. LISD proposed the new road to address traffic safety concerns and to provide another exit in the case of an emergency, according to meeting documents from LISD.

The project would cost an estimated $15 million-17 million, according to Jimmy Disler, LISD chief facilities and operations officer. It would include a mile of road with a 100-foot right of way and an 800-foot bridge to protect habitat below the bridge.

“What the board has chosen to do is work on the entitlement,” Disler said. “It’s hard to go asking for money before we have entitlement. We’re looking for partners ultimately to help pay for this road.”

The schools are surrounded by endangered species preserve land, designated for the federally endangered black-capped vireo and golden-cheeked warbler and federally threatened Jollyville Plateau salamander.

The proposed road would run through the preserve land within an existing infrastructure corridor that contains several utility lines for the city of Austin and Lower Colorado River Authority, Disler said. It would also run through land owned by 3M, which has been supportive of the road, he said.

In 2013, LISD began coordinating with the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan to use the preserve land for the access road. Disler said it became apparent in 2014 that LISD needed to go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

LISD has contacted Texas representatives in Washington, D.C. to request that the USFWS work with them to find viable solutions for the road, LISD Superintendent Dan Troxell said.

“There is power in numbers and that’s why we’re here tonight,” he said. “We really want to appeal to the lawmakers.”

He asked attendees at the forum use social media to contact their representatives. Handouts provided example posts and letters for participants to use, along with phone numbers and mailing addresses.

Daniel Cernero, a digital communications specialist for LISD, taught the audience how to sign up for Twitter and create Tweets using the hashtag #BuildTheRoad.

“If the community doesn’t take this over and get involved this time, then we’re done,” said Pamela Waggoner, vice president of the school board and founder of the Four Points Traffic Committee. “There’s more movement than there’s ever been on it.”

Learn more at www.leanderisd.org and on the Four Points Traffic Committee’s Facebook page.