As a longtime homeowner on Hamilton Pool Road, Nell Penridge said she remembers a time when grassland lined the shoulderless, two-lane road and developments were far away. Her house was the last one within Bee Cave’s borders before the city annexed adjacent tracts, she said.
“It was very rural,” Penridge said of the corridor’s population in 1993, the year she moved to the area. “The traffic was a fraction of what it is today.”
Locals say the road’s corridor is divided into two halves separated by RR 12, with the eastern section stemming from Hwy. 71 to RR 12 and the western section running from RR 12 to the Pedernales River.
Penridge said the Deer Creek community—just off Hamilton Pool Road in Dripping Springs—was the first development along the road and served as a summer community for families in the mid-1960s.
She was a founding member of the Hamilton Pool Road Scenic Corridor Coalition in 2004, the first homeowners action group. It was created out of a concern the area would be overdeveloped, lose its natural beauty and risk damage to the Karst hillside’s caves and endangered species, she said.
“We have a real fragile ecosystem—Lick Creek, Little Barton Creek, Bee Creek and Hamilton Creek,” Penridge said.
Single-family residential developments are now tucked in along the road from Hwy. 71 to RR 12.
Penridge said Hamilton Pool residents of the early 2000s felt that with added development, traffic would overrun the narrow road and compromise safety.
“We saw an environmental problem as well as a huge traffic problem,” she said.
A $1.4 million construction project to widen Hamilton Pool from south of Hwy. 71 to RR 12 is underway and funded by the Texas Department of Transportation. The renovations will add a center turn lane at Crumley Ranch and add shoulders from Hwy. 71 to Cueva Drive.
In March, Travis County Commissioners Court agreed to widen the western half of Hamilton Pool Road, west of RR 12 to the Pedernales River, and add shoulders to the road. Residents petitioned the agency to shift its spending to improve the densely populated section of the road between RR 12 and Hwy. 71.
“Traffic is a big issue,” Star Hill Ranch owner Adam Woolley said of Hamilton Pool. “It’s one of the prettiest roads in the state, but it is also becoming one of the most dangerous. I’d like to see some improvements made without sacrificing its natural beauty.”
The neighborhood group Hamilton Pool Road Matters formed in 2013 to stop the development of Masonwood, a 700-homesite project proposed on Hamilton Pool between the Belvedere and Destiny Hills neighborhoods, Penridge said.
Residents opposed the project fearing a shortage of water because developers requested the local utility provider—West Travis County Public Utility Agency—grant the community water and wastewater service, she said.
“There are also property setback and environmental concerns with the project,” she said. Rocky Creek developer Don Walden said his main concerns for the community’s residents are water and wastewater services. “The WTCPUA and getting accurate billings from the agency is our biggest issue,” Walden said.
Walden began building his 395-home community in the late fall of 2010 and is completing the last 60 lots of the project’s final phase, he said.