Four Points officials voice concerns about local roadway issues

Steiner Ranch resident Terry Klein said she remembers that local traffic was not too bad when she and her family moved to the neighborhood six years ago.

However, she said she now worries about her teenage daughter driving area streets after a friend died in a car accident at the end of 2013. Klein said she knows others who have been in accidents on

RR 2222.

Klein attended the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's

Jan. 27 neighborhood meeting at Four Points' Austin Christian Fellowship Church. She said she went to the program to hear what staffers had to say about making the roadways safer near her home.

The event was the second community meeting—following Lakeway's Nov. 8 session—designed to elicit input from residents as to what projects should be included in CAMPO's 2040 Plan, a proposal that prioritizes transportation programs for federal funding.

"CAMPO 2040 is not a vision document; it is a priority planning document," said presenter Brian Thompto, Four Points Chamber of Commerce director of community relations and chairman of the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association. "Large projects must be in the plan to get federal funding."

CAMPO Executive Director Maureen McCoy said less federal money is going toward transportation projects since federal gas tax funding has decreased to pay for these programs. She said she attributes some of the decline in the gas tax revenue to drivers owning cars with better gas mileage.

McCoy said the CAMPO 2040 plan must be adopted by May 2015, or federal funds for its regional projects would be put on hold.

Western Travis County

The western Travis County corridor was not included in CAMPO's 2035 plan to receive projects, Thompto said.

"Austin's metro population will continue to grow at a rapid rate for decades to come," he said. "A significant part of this growth is occurring to the west, including continued expansions of suburbs in the northwest and southwest. [This] projected growth will bring increased demands on arterial roads connecting the growing population centers to areas of commerce and city centers."

Thompto said high congestion areas for morning traffic include the intersections of RR 620 and RR 2222, RR 620 and Anderson Mill Road, U.S. 183 and RR 620, and Bee Caves Road and Hwy. 71. He said the intersection of Loop 360 and RR 620 north of Lakeway showed moderate morning congestion.

"Western corridor roads will see the most dramatic growth in congestion due to increased volume versus capacity as tens of thousands of new residents move into areas west of Austin," he said. "The western corridor is constrained by

topography and preserve areas limiting options for improvement."

City Manager Steve Jones said he represents the city of Lakeway in a coalition of local governments, Travis County and

RR 620 businesses. He said the group is aimed at raising funds to leverage, along with Texas Department of Transportation and CAMPO funds, support for RR 620 roadway projects and corridor studies.

Proposed traffic solutions

Thompto said possible traffic solutions may involve connecting the Austin metropolitan area to major residential centers. He said proposed projects should:

  • expand capacity along RR 620 by using overpasses and/or underpasses,
  • expedite traffic through centers of commerce and ease traffic backups by implementing intelligent coordinated signal controls, and
  • complete the southern portion of the outer ring of highways around the Austin metro area with an elevated tollway.

Long-term goals of a transportation solution would incorporate expanding local, state and federal highway systems into the western transit corridor, he said.

TxDOT responds

TxDOT Engineer Mark Jones said the agency hired a consulting firm to evaluate options for improving the RR 620 and RR 2222 intersection as well as RR 2222 between River Place Boulevard and

RR 620. The corridor study may generate proposals for future projects, although smaller than what CAMPO would propose, he said.

"Since the 1990s we've looked at full-blown freeways [in the western corridor]," Jones said. "But they're not viable—economically and ecologically. We're not wanting to look at anything huge. It's just not financially possible."

Lakeway councilman joins transportation policy board

On Jan. 28, Lakeway Councilman Joe Bain was appointed by Travis County commissioners as the county's small-cities representative on the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy board which addresses funding for area projects.

"I am excited to bring input from the small cities in the area," he said. "There are no real plans for the western part of the CAMPO area, and the area's traffic congestion will become much worse in the next 10-plus years. I'm hoping to bring some fresh ideas and drive some of the interest to the west side of the area."