The activity has brought discussion among Lakeway city staff and area residents about the future of Flint Rock, a roadway that runs from just west of Serene Hills Drive to RM 620. The roadway already concerns area residents given the type and amount of traffic it carries on an average day.
Planned development near RM 620 will bring more traffic to the area. However, it is not so much those incoming developments, but the number of houses and people living to the west, in neighborhoods such as Sweetwater and Rough Hollow, that are creating problems along Flint Rock, said Wes Hook, who lives at the corner of Serene Hills Drive and Flint Rock Road.
Much of the traffic is the result of eastbound motorists turning from Hwy. 71 to Serene Hills Drive and then to Flint Rock Road as a shortcut to travel to eastbound RM 620 or to Lake Travis High School. By doing so, motorists avoid traffic signals at Hwy. 71 and RM 620 as well as other signals along RM 620, such as at Bee Cave Parkway, Hook said. This “cut-through” traffic also is noted in the city of Lakeway’s long-term comprehensive plan.
“Based on development, this has now become a much higher trafficked road starting at 6 a.m. with heavy trucks, and then there is the rush hour with schools, and then there is the rush hour at 4 p.m. going the other way,” Hook said. “So traffic has increased dramatically over the past three years.”
Flint Rock, which is considered by Lakeway’s long-term comprehensive plan among a group of major city roads known as regional arterials, cuts along areas not technically within Lakeway city limits but within its extraterritorial jurisdiction. Thus, maintenance is shared with Travis County, which controls about 66% of the roadway.
In 2017, the county completed, with Lakeway’s financial participation, an $8 million, voter-approved widening of 2 miles of the road. However, that work did not directly address issues created by the amount of traffic that residents said is making Flint Rock increasingly unsafe as it makes its east-west run from RM 620 to Serene Hills.
Residents and members of the Flint Rock Falls Property Owners Association have been speaking with city staff about ways to calm traffic. Ideas discussed include stepped up police patrols, lowering the speed limit to 30 mph and the possible addition of traffic signals or stop signs, said Mike Hahn, of the Flint Rock Falls Property Owners Association. People speeding along the road is a particular problem, he said.
“You hear them shifting gears, and you hear what I call the ‘Circuit of The Americas’ drivers that love that road,” he said.
Development and traffic along Flint Rock has become so pronounced that one 15-year-resident of Lakeway who lives in the Flint Rock area, Kelly Brynteson, ran for City Council in May to address the fast-paced development in the area and to better represent the changing demographics of the city.
Although she did not win a council seat, she said she is staying engaged in the civic process and plans to continue to communicate her concerns about the pace of development in and around this part of Lakeway.
“We are greatly concerned that our quiet little country area is being developed at an alarming rate. Flint Rock is a country road that is being turned upside down,” she said. “We need to slow it down until we are able to get our roads in shape.”
Both Hahn and Brynteson said they know property owners have the right to develop their land for commercial benefit, but they said it can be done in an intelligent way that minimizes impact on current residents.
The need to strike this balance was highlighted in Lakeway’s recent zoning approval in April for a Flint Rock housing development by Legacy DCS, now referred to as Hill Song. The development as envisioned would bring 126 houses along with a commercial area and a small public park, and perhaps most important to area residents, a traffic signal at the intersection of Flint Rock Road and Wild Cherry Drive.
Cass Brewer, owner of Legacy DCS, said his project will participate in the cost of the traffic signal, although exact details of what that will be are not yet known. Brewer, who has been developing property in the area for 20 years, said he is aware of the concerns about Flint Rock and does not think traffic added from his project close to RM 620 will create larger traffic problems.
“It is really a drop in the bucket for the overall problem with Flint Rock Road being used as a cut-through,” he said.
The road’s proximity to Lake Travis High School and the natural beauty of the Lakeway area are why he believes more people want to move to the area and his development is needed, he said.
“The schools have been a primary driver of the housing in the area,” he said. “It’s become a place where people want their kids to go to school, and that drives housing demand.”
Legacy DCS also has a second housing development, East Side Landing, which is planned for the west end of Flint Rock.
It is a project of concern to residents because it would come with a right of way the city could one day use to extend Flint Rock to Bee Creek Road further to the west, according to a development agreement approved by Lakeway City Council.
The city of Lakeway staff recognizes the changing dynamics of Flint Rock and is discussing areas of the road within its direct control, Lakeway City Manager Julie Oakley said.
“The city is reviewing three intersections: Kaden Way, Stephanie Lane and Tonkawa Trail,” she said. “The study will determine if a multiway stop is warranted at any of these intersections.”
Connecting Flint Rock to Bee Creek Road is an idea in Lakeway’s long-term thoroughfare plan. The plan is designed to be reviewed and, if needed, updated every five years, Oakley said.
Flint Rock Falls residents, worried property values would diminish, are opposed to this vision for connecting the roadways and would like to see the western end of the road end with a cul-de-sac at the East Side Landing development, Hahn said.
“Don’t give people that don’t even live here the option to access RM 620,” Hahn said.