Oak Hill residents asked transportation authorities at the Sept. 12 Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods meeting about progress on projects to improve traffic flow at the Y at Oak Hill—and why the projects are taking so long to implement.

Attendees commended transportation authorities for other projects including opening the first of the new MoPac flyovers, but focused on the project at the Y and asked for a timeline on a "real fix."

"We've been working on it for 20, almost 30 years," TxDOT engineer Don Nyland said. "I'm not going to venture to guess because every time we get something ready to go, there's somebody that decides we need to redo everything, and so now y'all are stuck in traffic."

Progress and construction timeline

Gary Schatz, assistant director of the City of Austin Department of Transportation, explained that the first half of the project to improve the Y will take place at FM 1626 and Convict Hill—widening lanes, adding 6-foot shoulders and double left-turn lanes, he said. Plans were submitted, and construction is expected to start sometime in 2013.

The second half of the project is adding continuous-flow intersections, or CFIs, to the Y at Oak Hill, William Cannon Drive and Joe Tanner Lane. Schatz explained that at these CFIs, lanes are moved to allow a driver to turn left while a driver on the opposite side of the intersection can drive straight ahead, for example. That project is between 60 percent and 90 percent complete, he said.

Nyland said CFIs at Hwy. 71 and William Cannon Drive will be bid out in February, so construction will likely begin in the spring, and the CFIs will open about a year later. TxDOT will provide more information about the new intersections on its website, he said.

Neighbors want to boost local aesthetic

Attendees also expressed concern with the appearance of surrounding areas. Aan Coleman, OHAN board member, suggested revegetating the abandoned concrete slabs along West Hwy. 290, adding trees to the Capital Metro parking area and making other similar changes.

"We've been through so much degradation of our sense of aesthetic on the highways. It'd be nice to have something that looks a little more current and like the rest of the city, quality-wise; we just don't have that in our community anymore," she said. "We can't wait forever for our community to look whole again."