Round Rock, Pflugerville may have to reimburse TxDOT if frontage road is completed along SH 45

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UPDATE: Round Rock City Council voted unanimously Jan. 10 to provide funding for a traffic and revenue study to be conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation in connection to the SH 45 frontage road project.

The results of the study could determine whether the project moves forward.

ORIGINAL STORY: Round Rock City Council will vote Jan. 10 on whether to provide funding for a study which represents the next step in the process to fill in the gap on the SH 45 frontage road between Heatherwilde Boulevard and Donnell Drive.

Currently, the abrupt dead end forces traffic on to westbound SH 45 with the next exit at A.W. Grimes Boulevard. The lack of a frontage road makes access to neighborhoods along SH 45 more difficult, costing drivers more time and money. East bound, drivers have to enter SH 45 briefly from Donnell to exit at Heatherwilde.

The total cost of the study—just over $61,000—would be split with the city of Pflugerville, according to Gary Hudder, director of transportation for the city of Round Rock. Hudder said the study would be conducted on behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation, which manages the roadway, and would determine the potential revenue impact the project could have on the toll road.

“The way the toll structure is set up is they have bond holders that fund toll projects and then the way they get reimbursed on those bonds is through revenues that the toll system generates,” Hudder said. “Whenever there is something this significant that could impact that revenue stream they are obligated to do a revenue study.”

Hudder said the study will identify any potential revenue impact to the main lanes of the toll road.

If the study indicates a negative revenue impact to the toll road, Hudder said that TxDOT could prevent Round Rock and Pflugerville from carrying out the project unless a plan is put in place to reimburse the lost toll funds.

“It could not happen,” Hudder said. “More than likely, after we get through this entire process with them, Round Rock and the city of Pflugerville will have a decision to make of how much it is going to cost to make the connection which would include full design, construction… as well as potential revenue impacts that we would be obligated to take care of.”

Although the outcome of the study has the potential to sideline the project, Hudder said he is optimistic that it will move forward.

“…The outcome [of the study]probably is going to be that [TxDOT] will determine that we can move forward but at what cost,” Hudder said. “It will be an economic decision at that point.”

Hudder anticipates that—with City Council’s approval of the funding—the study will take roughly six months to complete.

“I am hopeful that by the end of this calendar year we will be through the TxDOT toll process and have pretty clear direction as to whether we want to move forward or not,” Hudder said.

Should the project move forward, the cities of Round Rock and Pflugerville will be responsible for funding the frontage roadway improvements.

TxDOT representatives declined comment at this time.

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COMMENT
  1. This should have been done years ago, why is fixing this taking so long? Traffic is dumped into neighborhoods that could easily be by passing the neighborhoods if this was fixed. A stupid design from the git go, all about the tolls, now were stuck in let’s study the obvious and take more time to do anything. Where’s the Kenny fort extension to sh 45, thought the bond money was voted on years ago on that? Will still be studying that even after the Kalmahari resort traffic is tying up the neighborhoods around it. Come on traffic planners get it in gear, start building.

    • I live off High Country. It was a nice quiet neighborhood. Now all I hear is traffic! Fire trucks, police, trucks, cars, and motorcycles are all flying by. There’s no peace and quiet, even in the middle of the night l get woke up by the noise. Trying to leave home during rush hours is taking my life in my hands. Few are polite. I give up and just go. Thankful I’m not hit. Kids walking and crossing are always in danger. Escaped pets rarely survive. This was a terrible mistake when it was designed. Do the right thing and fix it !! Or do what you always do – put tolls, red tape and politics first and do nothing!

  2. Thanks god, finally they decided to talk about this. Please stop playing the tolls game and make connections.

  3. The tax roads were supposed to replace public roads that would have been built at public expense. 1) they are nothing more than a blatantly regressive tax placed least on the developers, business owners and true beneficiaries of this infrastructure, and 2) the ‘owners’ of this bad idea now want public money to finish what they should have completed all along.

    Cowardly and bought-off politicians will not stand up to the bond-holders and banks and “owners” of our infrastructure and make them pay to finish it. SHAME. The late (thankfully) Ric Williamson (one of the misled and misleading politicians responsible for tax roads in Texas) famously said, “We will have slow roads, no roads, or toll roads.” He left out one important alternative: Tax those who benefit most from infrastructure (and it is NOT “user pays”): Developers, factory owners, the investor class, and the rich. They benefit MORE than the “users.” Tax roads are a shame for the people of Texas.

  4. Timothy D Dugan

    This is absolutely crazy that the loss of TXTag revenue is a reason we wouldn’t get a frontage road completed. They should be wanting people to be able to commute and lower congestion on smaller side streets. The system is already showing us they don’t care about the expansion of the metro area to the northeast by not only not lowering toll road costs(they just went up 3 cents recently) but trying to solve congestion issues by adding toll lanes and finding ways to nickel and dime people. They have to be making money with more people moving out there and using the roads but greed is a hell of a thing.

  5. Patrick Blackard

    So we have to pay to build the road, then pay again to use it? That’s local traffic, it does not belong to the toll road. there is no reason to pay them for something they did not build. What next? Do they want to charge us for driving down Main Street? Little known fact: Driving on roads paid for by the gas tax costs you about two cents per mile. Driving on Central Texas toll roads costs more than 10 times that. No more toll roads!

  6. This still needs a study ? Looks like another to find excuse to not do the right thing.

    Finish that road!

  7. Hasnain Shabbir

    The lack of access road to the next crossing street and instead forcing the traffic on to toll road or on to neighborhoods, there has to be a law to prevent that. You can build toll road but you cannot block access to the side road (and in this case not even built). Can lawyers help please to sue TxDOT for not doing their job?

  8. Woody Williams

    Survey?
    Why do you need to survey if this is needed or not? It’s pretty easy to see that it’s needed with the amount of cars having to go into the neighborhood to get to where they are going because the road ends!
    This is where the saying is true, Common Sense is not too Common anymore!
    They should do away with Tolls altogether, soon TX will become too expensive to live in with property tax sky rocketing and these tolls, traffic making freeways a parking lot and not so free (34, mopac etc) open up the 45 toll free. Here’s a survey for you, accidents are happening on these freeways because there are too many cars on them, due to avoiding having to pay a toll. This States infrastructure is heading to a dead end…open up the dead end simple answer!

  9. BTW, did you ever notice that the anonymous, not-elected, nameless tax-road people can raise your tax to use the roads on a frequent, random, arbitrary basis? No vote of the people, no accountability, and without much fanfare? The taxes to use our own roads creep up monthly and yearly, up and up and up. No other taxes we pay can be slipped in on us like this. Tax roads are a con. We’ll never get out from under it until we STAND UP.

  10. Shocking that there needs to be a study. This is a no-brainer and should have been completed when they built the road. It is shocking that they left in uncompleted ON PURPOSE to drive traffic to the toll roads. We should have denied them the right to complete the highway UNLESS they built the access roads. There is NO-WAY the local community should have to re-imburse the TxDOT for the loss of traffic. So if the city build a road with its own money it owes TxDOT? No way. I want to see a study of how far away the local community needs to build the road so that it is none of TxDOT’s business.

    This is exactly why toll roads suck. They are designing based on greed not on best traffic flow.

  11. Mark Kreutzian

    I thought it was a scam in the first place just to jack up the toll revenue on Sh45 in the first place.

  12. My wife and I always found it curious that there was no frontage road here. Good to know it was premeditated to increase revenue. I love spreading my cheeks for private gains. Stories like this are what make me laugh at “Free Market” types who blame government for collecting taxes. Well here you go you short sighted clucks, have your free market right in the ass.

  13. I live out that way in Blackhawk and it has never been mentioned in all the discussion about this is that the eastbound frontage road WAS completed, but never used. Due to some problem with Pflugerville and money TXDOT TORE IT OUT. So in my opinion the east bound portion was completed and paid for. TXDOT owes us at least the eastbound side.

  14. Stephen Arthur Hatgis

    Getting tough to get out of my neighborhood across from Living Spaces due to the increased volume of cars and trucks that don’t want to pay the toll for 500 yards of toll road to Heatherwilde. Instead they take Schultz to New Meister at higher speeds at times making it difficult to pull out safely from Royal Pointe. I know Mr Fletcher is working very hard for the city and we have roads with bigger issues.

    Please make a bike path / walking lane at least 6 feet wide for the time being. It is very dangerous cycling Schultz, and we had a bike/walking lane to heatherwilde that opens up all the stores to us via cycling or walking.

  15. That section of the frontage road was designed to force drivers onto the toll road from the get go. It was a scan from the very beginning, and they didn’t care on the impact on surrounding neighborhoods. Now we are worried about the loss of toll revenue if the missing frontage section I built? This is taking the citizenry for idiots. What I find amazing is that it was perfectly legal to build roads this way from the beginning.

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Kirby Killough
Kirby Killough joined Community Impact after working in broadcast news. She is currently the editor for the Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto edition of Community Impact.
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