San Gabriel Parkway, one of the prominent east-west corridors planned within Leander's transit-oriented development district, officially opened Feb. 14 amid much celebration.
The City of Leander, Williamson County, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, Texas Department of Transportation, Capital Metro and area private landowners all contributed to creating the 3-mile, $5 million roadway. Representatives from each entity took time to recognize the effort that went into the project during a ribbon-cutting ceremony along the new stretch of road.
Leander Mayor Chris Fielder said the concept for San Gabriel Parkway began as early as 1999.
"The best things take time," Fielder said, referring to the slogan attached to the project—part of a larger effort to create infrastructure surrounding the TOD district.
But without collaboration, San Gabriel Parkway would still be in the development stages, Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long said.
"This is a project that at any point in time could have fallen off the radar because it was hard," Long said, crediting the multiple partners who came together to complete the road that runs from Bagdad Road through US 183 and Toll 183A to CR 170.
Mike Heiligenstein, CTRMA executive director and a Williamson County commissioner when the project was conceived, accelerated the second phase of construction on Toll 183A—originally scheduled to be completed by 2017—so that it was complete through Leander last year. That accelerated timeline allowed San Gabriel Parkway to safely open without having to later close to allow the northern portion of Toll 183A to be constructed.
"We accelerated that, or we still wouldn't be here," Heiligenstein said.
The next step, he said, will be to attract economic development opportunities along San Gabriel Parkway and throughout the TOD.
"Williamson County for decades now has got it," he said. "If you want progress, you have to have the infrastructure."
San Gabriel Parkway is located just north of Capital Metro's Park & Ride station in Leander. Collectively, the area has approximately 2,000 acres in developable land to help create an urban setting around the train and bus station, Capital Metro CEO Linda Watson said.
"In fact, transit-oriented development creates real value to areas like this," Watson said. "It can be an economic development engine."
More than three dozen supporters then joined the four speakers for an official ribbon cutting, marking the official opening of San Gabriel Parkway.