Between road expansions, pavement maintenance, construction of new roads and creation of long-range plans, Pflugerville and Hutto’s specific priorities vary slightly, but their upcoming projects share a common goal of enhancing connectivity.
“We look at our bridges [and] our roadways, and we try to look for areas where we can connect all those pieces,” said Andrea Brinkley, capital improvement projects director in Pflugerville. “This is really about getting from one place to another.”
In Hutto, Hwy. 79 acts as the city’s primary east-west arterial. However, officials said it is unlikely that Hutto’s portion of Hwy. 79 can widen anymore since it is restricted by a railroad to the south and development to the north.
Wade Benton, Hutto’s interim public works and engineering director, said with Hwy. 79 already being heavily congested and the city population growing rapidly, new thoroughfares and upgrades to exiting roads are key to relieving traffic.
“We’ve got to come up with some alternatives ... so everyone doesn’t have to get on [Hwy.] 79 to get to the other side of town or get through town,” he said.
One major project that could help accomplish that goal will bring a series of improvements to intersections along FM 1660 and make it more viable as an arterial road.
The project will add new lanes, including dedicated turn lanes, to three intersections along the road. It is in design with expected completion dates ranging from 2023-25 for different parts of the project.
City officials said another project that will help divert traffic from Hwy. 79 is a new road called Southeast Loop, which will run through southeast Hutto before connecting with the easternmost part of Hwy. 79 within the city.
Williamson County crews began construction on the road’s first segment in summer 2021—and design is underway on the second segment.
The road projects in Pflugerville with the most immediate need largely center on the expansion of existing roads to handle additional traffic.
Brinkley said two key widening projects that are nearly ready to begin construction involve Immanuel Road and Kelly Lane.
The Immanuel Road project and part of the Kelly Lane project are funded by a $101.7 million transportation bond passed in 2020.
Brinkley said design on the Immanuel Road expansion is around 75% complete, while the next phase of the Kelly Lane project is awaiting relocation of power lines. That phase has been delayed several times but is now expected to wrap up in January.
“We are so hopeful about Kelly Lane Phase 2, because we are ready to bid that project,” she said.
The road ahead
While projects already in the works help address immediate needs, Pflugerville and Hutto are each engaging in extensive planning to anticipate their future transportation needs and get ahead of them.
Pflugerville is conducting two extensive corridor studies—one along the SH 130 corridor and another along the FM 685 corridor—that will identify and prioritize projects to improve roadways along those thoroughfares.
The SH 130 study encompasses a 19-square-mile area that is experiencing extensive growth, including the 400-acre mixed-use development Lakeside Meadows at its intersection with Pecan Street in Pflugerville.
“This is an extreme amount of development that is happening, ... so we are trying to plan very well for that,” Brinkley said. “This is an area where we are trying to make sure that we are able to traverse or cross this major thoroughfare and basically integrate it into our roadway network.”
The study is anticipated to report findings in May.
Evan Groeschel, operations director for Pflugerville’s public works department, said major expansions and new roads tend to draw the most attention, but maintaining existing roads is just as important. To that end, the city maintains a plan of which roads are likely to need preventative maintenance over the next five years, Groeschel said.
“The idea with our rehabilitation and preservation is that we preserve roads that are in good condition ... so we don’t have to pay the big money to reconstruct,” Groeschel said.
In Hutto, the city is nearing completion of its 2040 comprehensive plan, a long-range planning document that will help prioritize numerous initiatives, including transportation projects.
Hutto Development Services Director Ashley Lumpkin said a key step in drafting the transportation portion of the plan has been consulting with other cities and counties to ensure roadway plans are consistent where borders meet or overlap.
“We want to make sure—if our road’s connecting here and Taylor’s plan shows it a half-mile south ... do we maybe need to look at ours coming in a little bit different?” Lumpkin said. “Williamson County was here, and then we looked at Pflugerville’s plans, Taylor’s plans, Georgetown and Round Rock.”
Hutto’s comprehensive plan is expected to be complete sometime in 2023.
As the two municipalities move forward with their planning, officials said public input will be a key ingredient in determining where and when projects are most needed.
“We just want to make sure that we’re here to serve the residents and make sure that they feel like there’s value being delivered by the city,” Brinkley said. “We’re trying to build the best study that we can.”