Armed with hard hats and shovels, Terry McCoy, Austin district engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation, escorted city leaders, contractors, dignitaries and TxDOT staffers Monday to a spot at the corner of Westlake Drive and Bee Caves Road to officially mark the beginning of a road construction project that West Lake Hills Mayor Linda Anthony said has been years in the making.
“It has been a long, drawn-out process and I’m glad it’s finally underway,” she said.
The $29 million improvement project—slated to end in summer 2019—is a joint effort between the city of West Lake Hills and TxDOT. During the past few years, city administrators coordinated the purchase of more than 40 tracts of land in Bee Caves Road right of way to make room for a center-turn lane from Redbud Trail to Walsh Tarlton Lane, a 3 mile stretch of the current four-lane road.
“People have been involved in trying to change this roadway for 25 years,” said Dave Claunch, former mayor of West Lake Hills who retired in December 2015 after serving the city for seven years. “My predecessors acquired the [road’s] right of way when they could, as it would come up. It took a lot of people chipping in.”
The project also includes adding sidewalks and shoulders to Bee Caves Road.
“This project will enhance both the safety and mobility for all area travelers,” McCoy said.
Gerald Daugherty, Travis County Commissioner Precinct 3, acknowledged the hurdles the Bee Caves Road project has had to overcome to get to the starting point of construction.
“Building roads in this side of town is tough, especially south, west and southwest,” he said, adding residents are afraid more roads would bring additional growth to the area. “This community has been really resistant from a right of way standpoint, with some businesses losing parking. But it’s just the cost of growth.
“Roadway infrastructure is an absolute necessity. That being said, it will affect some people more than others.”
Construction began this week by restriping Bee Caves Road from Westlake Drive to Redbud Trail to provide 10-foot-wide lanes within which contractors will relocate utility lines, TxDOT assistant area engineer Michelle Romage-Chambers said. Motorists can expect to see some lane closures on the four lanes of traffic during off-peak hours, she said.
Local and state officials said the community will need to be patient with the traffic changes and other issues surrounding the new construction.
“It will take a community for us to try to land this plane,” McCoy said.
Residents can find Bee Caves Road project updates by clicking on the TxDOT website www.txdot.gov, then search for RM 2244 to visit the project page or subscribe for email updates by sending an email with”Updates” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org. The agency also has a project telephone number, 512-693-7425, for additional information.