State crews remove trees, brush as first steps toward new parkway

While major construction on Oak Hill Parkway is not expected until early 2022, the Texas Department of Transportation has begun some project elements.

TxDOT has begun work on a sound wall, clearing and grading, and identification of caves and voids, said Brad Wheelis, a TxDOT public information officer

The $674 million project will create a freeway at the Y in Oak Hill where Hwy. 290 and Hwy. 71 intersect. The project will add flyovers at the intersection and include up to three main lanes with frontage lanes. According to the TxDOT website, the freeway expects to open in 2026.

As a result of the construction noise, TxDOT will build a sound wall along the south side of Hwy. 290 from South View Road to Scenic Brook Drive near the Ridgeview neighborhood, Wheelis said.

Wheelis said TxDOT also will begin work on retaining walls on Hwy. 290 west of Circle Drive.

Finally, TxDOT also has begun drilling in proposed bridge locations at the Y intersection to identify any Edwards Aquifer karst features.

“Karst is an area of water-soluble limestone terrain, which can include underground voids and/or caves,” Wheelis said.

If TxDOT identifies karst features, it would work with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to determine adjustments.

ABIA may see addition of fourth security checkpoint

The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is moving to increase security capacity with a fourth checkpoint and upgraded equipment at the existing three main terminal passenger checkpoints.

The airport advisory commission has recommended the $1.5 million project to Austin City Council, and

Shane Harbinson, the department of aviation’s deputy chief of planning and development, said work will begin at ABIA in November with a completion date between December and February.

Harbinson also said that upgraded Transportation Security Administration machines at existing checkpoints will play a role in expediting passengers through security.

“The goal, though, is this new machine that TSA has installed should be faster; so your throughput should be, instead of

150 or [160] passengers per hour, maybe you can get 180,” Harbinson said.

Austin City Council members are expected to vote on the security expansion project prior to Nov. 9.

Hamilton Pool Road Widening

Utility crews are moving natural gas lines to prepare for a $13.7 million road widening under the direction of the Texas Department of Transportation. The project runs from Hwy. 12 to Hwy. 71, according to TxDOT.