Round Rock City Council passed 4-2 a resolution March 10 identifying a possible route that runs partly along FM 1431 for a transmission line the Lower Colorado River Authority is looking to build in west Round Rock as the best possible route for the city.
The council passed the resolution because the LCRA is looking at various power line routes in the area to connect two proposed substations—one in Leander and one in Cedar Park—to existing substations—one in Leander and one in Round Rock. The LCRA has identified dozens of potential routes, some of which run through highly populated areas and one that would run along Brushy Creek. Ultimately the Public Utilities Commission of Texas will be the final decision -maker on where the lines go.
According to LCRA documents, the LCRA could submit its primary routes to the PUC in April. The proceedings may take about a year for the PUC to come to a final decision, during which time residents can intervene in the process.
Joe Brehm, Round Rock community engagement administrator, said the recommended route, which starts south of RM 3406 at the existing Round Rock substation and heads north to FM 1431, was selected using the criteria identified by the PUC for siting the lines. He said the LCRA already has existing infrastructure along the route that can be modified to accommodate the lines the LCRA is looking to build. He said that route would be cheaper for the LCRA, which the PUC takes into consideration, and impact fewer homes than many of the other possible routes.
Residents in subdivisions near the FM 1431 route, including Vista Oaks, said the route in the resolution would severely impact property values. Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw and council members said the resolution was a recommendation, and the council was trying to choose the “least-worse” route.
“Do I want it? No, but if you look at the least-worse decision, that’s where [the transmission line] should go,” McGraw said.
McGraw said when compared with other routes, such as one that runs along Arterial H, which cuts through the Mayfield Ranch neighborhood, the FM 1431 route affects fewer homes. Brehm said the FM 1431 route would be adjacent to about 10 homes within Round Rock city limits as well as a convenience store and a church. He said the Arterial H route would directly impact about 150 homes as well as run through the nearby Southwest Williamson County Regional Park.
Residents who spoke against the route along FM 1431 said the council should have recommended one identified in LCRA documents that would extend northward toward Georgetown, then run west along RM 2243. The route would then connect to the proposed substation by running southward down CR 175.
“I am not sure why that route going up to [RM 2243] isn’t being discussed,” said Tammy Young, a real estate broker whose house backs up to the FM 1431 route. “That’s the route that would impact the fewest homeowners overall. I just beg of you not to support this.”
Young said her house is one of the 10 directly impacted by the transmission line, but it will ultimately impact more homes in the neighborhood because the 80-foot power lines will be visible from more homes.
Brehm said city staffers originally favored the route that went north to FM 2243 but amended their recommendation because the route could cost the LCRA up to $28 million more than the FM 1431 route, and the PUC considers cost when deciding where to the place the lines. He said Leander also opposed the route because it would loop around CR 175 twice, and Round Rock staffers were working with their regional partners when selecting the recommended route.
Those opposed to the FM 1431 route also created a website: www.save1431.com.
Cedar Park and Leander city councils approved separate resolutions in January and February respectively, stating both cities favor two possible line routes. The routes would pass between the substation and Sam Bass Road before crossing to Round Rock along Arterial H or FM 1431. The Leander resolution recommends LCRA avoid routes that include roads such as Toll 183A, Parmer Lane and Ronald Reagan.
Daron Butler, Cedar Park business services director, said Cedar Park leaders want the power lines and substations to be located in areas that will not disrupt economic development.
“[The recommended routes] would have less impact on homeowners and the Brushy Creek Park and trail alignment than would the Brushy Creek route,” he said.