The reconstruction of the less-than-1-mile-long, two-lane road will include the elimination of a low-water crossing near Heritage Park and the addition of a roundabout where the road curves toward FM 685, both in preparation for future development north of the road.
Old Austin-Hutto Road will also be expanded to include a center left-turn lane and to extend the sidewalk on the east side of the road that currently starts at Pecan Street and stops near Poppy Pass.
Sean Barry, a project manager for the construction, said the cost of the project is not yet known, but it will go to bid later this spring. Funding for the project’s design came from a 2014 city bond, and construction funds will come from a bond passed in 2018. This is the last project to be completed on each of those bonds.
“[The road is] very narrow. The pavement is in very, very bad shape, right?” Barry said. “So, at a minimum, it needed to be rehabbed, but widening it out to make it safer [and] having turn lanes be built in the middle really should make a big difference.”
Kristine Stewart, a resident of the Bohls neighborhood east of the road, said Old Austin-Hutto Road has needed to be redone for a long time. The low-water crossing near Heritage Park, she said, floods “pretty much every time it rains” and shuts down the road both directions.
Stewart said she uses the road daily because a median blocks the entrance to her neighborhood on Pecan Street. Aside from the need to access her neighborhood, recent development along the road has made fixing it even more important, she said.
“As long as they're going to develop back there, they have to do something about the road,” said Stewart, who has lived in Pflugerville for 12 years. “It's the direct access for these thousands of people who live in this neighborhood.”
The project will also add streetlights to the west side of the road at 150-foot intervals, which Stewart said she was glad to hear because of how often the road is crossed by pedestrians. The road runs past a community pool, a weekend farmers market and the Heritage House Museum.
Mark Bolles, who owns an apartment complex along the road, said the project has been a long time coming and that “it’s good that it’ll [finally] be fixed." He said he attended Thursday’s meeting to find out more about when construction would occur so he could inform his tenants.
The city proposed that the project take place in three phases to minimize disruption to traffic. First, the section of the street between Pecan Street and Poppy Pass would be completely shut down and redone, followed by a widening of the east side of the road and construction of the roundabout between Poppy Pass and FM 685. Finally, the west side of the road would be reconstructed. In all, the construction is expected to last approximately 13 months, starting sometime this summer. An exact start date has not yet been disclosed.
While construction is ongoing, the traffic pattern will be changed to northbound only, said Patricia Davis, a principal engineer for the city.
Once completed, city staff said the refinished Old Austin-Hutto Road would also be a starting point for alleviating some concerns with Immanuel Road, which Old Austin-Hutto turns into after crossing Pecan.
Immanuel Road is one of several projects listed on the city’s 2020 bond election proposal, which is set to be voted on in May. If passed, the city would set aside $8.9 million to widen it into a three-lane roadway like Old Austin-Hutto.
Editor's note: A clarification was made to the story to indicate the roundabout will be located near FM 685.