Construction is set to begin early next year on an extension project that will ultimately allow drivers to travel from north Round Rock to the southern tip of the city without getting on I-35.
The project will extend North Mays Street from where it currently terminates at Paloma Drive to Oakmont Drive, by the IKEA shopping center. Williamson County, which is taking the lead on the project, expects to go out to bid by the end of the year and complete the project in spring 2020, according to Garry Brown, executive assistant with the office of Williamson County Commissioner Terry Cook.
“Frankly it is an extension that has been needed,” Brown said. “Hopefully once it is completed it will take some of the pressure off of that area and improve mobility.”
The extension will connect North Mays Street to Oakmont Drive where the existing roadway curves to the east. The portion of Oakmont that goes north to connect to University Boulevard will be renamed Mays Street, but the portion running from east to west will remain under the same name, according to Gary Hudder, director of transportation for the city of Round Rock.
“One of the really cool things is it is one of the only streets that will completely traverse the city of Round Rock from city limit to city limit, north to south,” Hudder said.
Hudder said the original plan called for a two-lane roadway, and the city would be responsible for constructing additional lanes in the future. Instead the city and county agreed to construct all four lanes at once. The project will also include a roughly 1,200-foot bridge, Hudder said.
“It will provide more options for people to get to the store or wherever they need to go because there is no real north-to-south arterial between I-35 and A.W. Grimes,” Brown said.
Round Rock will provide 24 percent of the design and construction costs for the project, which is estimated to cost roughly $11 million, according to Brown.
“[The extension] will be a huge benefit to I-35 and frontage road traffic,” Hudder said. “There is a lot of localized traffic that will be able to use this connection rather than I-35.”
Traffic counts from the city of Round Rock show that traffic in the area has increased over the past few years. Hudder said with the relocation of the Nutty Brown Amphitheatre as well as retail development, traffic is only expected to increase.
“This is a really critical piece of everything we are trying to do in that area,” Hudder said.
Hudder said the city recently secured all of the necessary rights of way to move forward with widening University. That project will include additional work on Oakmont, including a back entrance to the IKEA shopping center. Hudder said work on University will likely become more visible over the next few months as crews work on utility relocation with construction hopefully underway by the end of 2019.