Several construction projects affect area roads

Heatherwilde Boulevard widening

Heatherwilde Boulevard widening

Ongoing ProjectsTransportation Updates

1. The project will provide enhancements to 2.3 miles of I-35, from SH 45 N to Hwy. 79. Work includes the reconstruction of northbound and southbound frontage road intersections at I-35 and Hwy. 79, the addition of a third left-turn lane from westbound Hwy. 79 to southbound I-35 and the construction of braided ramps—a design in which one ramp crosses over the other—on northbound I-35 between Hester’s Crossing Road and RM 620, which is intended to relieve bottleneck issues. This project is funded by the voter-approved Proposition 1.

Timeline: July 2016-early 2019

2. The project will extend Creek Bend Boulevard over Brushy Creek and Hairy Man Road to connect with Brightwater Boulevard at Wyoming Springs Drive. It will include raised medians, sidewalks and bicycle accommodations.

Timeline: April 2015-late 2016

3. Downtown improvements
This project includes widening Mays Street from the railroad bridge south of downtown to the Brushy Creek bridge. It also realigned Main Street at its intersection with Mays. The project focuses on road improvements such as a new center left-turn lane on Mays in downtown. Crews are also installing trees and lighting as well as gateway features at the bridges over Brushy Creek and the railroad tracks.

Status: Paving has been completed and Mays is open. Limited traffic/lane restrictions continue, as well as work on the gateway features and the relocation of overhead utilities underground.
Timeline: March 2015-March
Cost: $13.2 million
Funding sources: city of Round Rock, federal grant funds

4. Kennemer Drive maintenance
Kennemer Drive, from its intersection with Kelly Lane to Terradyne Drive, will be repaired and repaved. This project is a part of the city of Pflugerville’s annual street maintenance program. By installing a new layer of asphalt over the existing pavement, the city will be able to extend the pavement’s lifespan.

Status: The drainage improvements portion of the project is underway. Weather and contractor delays have resulted in the overlay portion of the project to be delayed until early November.
Timeline: July-fall 2016
Cost: $861,595
Funding source: city of Pflugerville

5. East Pecan Street reconstruction
East Pecan Street, from SH 130 eastward to Weiss Lane, will be reconstructed into a three-lane roadway with curbs and gutters with a sidewalk and rehabilitation from Weiss to Cameron Road. During construction, traffic control crews are present. The road will be one lane only during construction and reopen at the end of each day when crews are not on-site.

Status: Construction began Sept. 26.
Timeline: September-May
Cost: $1.8 million
Funding source: city of Pflugerville

6. Heatherwilde Boulevard widening
This Heatherwilde Boulevard project provides for reconstruction and widening of the two-lane road into a four-lane, divided roadway with raised medians, turn lanes, drainage improvements and pedestrian facilities. Work is underway from just north of East Pflugerville Parkway to just south of SH 45 N. Improvements also include landscaping.

Status: The signal is installed at Kingston Lacey. The manhole covers that are along the roadway will be leveled during the final asphalt layer.
Timeline: February 2016-mid-2017
Cost: $6.7 million
Funding sources: city of Pflugerville

7. FM 685 improvements
FM 685 is receiving a major overhaul in Hutto between SH 130 and Hwy. 79. The road will be widened to accommodate shoulders, left-turn lanes and a median from Hwy. 79 to Riverwalk Drive. Two new bridges 12 feet higher than the original bridges will be built over Brushy Creek to reduce flooding of the roadway. The work is intended to improve traffic flow and safety.

Status: The northbound deck is poured and construction on the bridge supports continues. Riverwalk Drive access will open in November, and the project will be complete in late December. Once complete, new signs will be installed and FM 685 will officially become Chris Kelley Boulevard in honor of the Hutto police sergeant who died in the line of duty in 2015.
Timeline: October 2014-December 2016
Cost: $11 million
Funding sources: Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, city of Hutto, Texas Department of Transportation

8. Arterial H extension
Williamson County is extending Arterial H to Sam Bass Road. The project includes the design of four lanes for Arterial H, and current construction will consist of the northern two lanes.

Status: The contractor is installing utilities on the north side.
Timeline: June 2016-early 2017
Cost: $3.2 million
Funding sources: city of Pflugerville and Travis County bonds

9. Park Avenue closure

Transportation Updates Park Avenue closure[/caption]

Roadways near Fritz Park are being affected by enhancements to the park, which include removal of old structures and the replacement of fields.

Status: Crews are working on the sanitary sewer line from the site to the manhole on Park Avenue. Traffic has been one lane between Ross and Taylor streets. Portions of Cottonwood Trail will remain closed during the project.
Timeline: 2016-spring 2017
Cost: $3.3 million
Funding source: city of Hutto

Why are we paying tolls after toll road construction is paid for?

Transportation Updates How it works[/caption]

Tolls pay for more than just building toll roads. Though tolls do go toward repaying the bonds sold to fund constructing new roads, they also pay for operating and maintaining the existing roadways and funding expansions and improvements.

Essentially, a toll road is never completely paid for.

The state’s population is projected to increase to more than 30 million people by 2020, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. As the population increases, toll roads may undergo improvement projects to accommodate for the increased traffic congestion in the area.

Regularly scheduled increases of toll rates also help pay for future projects. Toll rates are adjusted every odd numbered year.

Gas taxes and vehicle registration fees do not fund the toll roads. That revenue is used to fund non-tolled projects by the Texas Department of Transportation. Toll roads, on the other hand, are largely funded through the sale of bonds that are repaid through tolls.

By Joe Warner
Joe Warner is executive editor of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor for Central Texas and senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.


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