Mobility, environmental concerns drive Wyoming Springs project discussions in Round Rock

Planned improvements along Wyoming Springs Drive are more than 20 years in the making, Round Rock Transportation Director Gary Hudder said. (Rendering courtesy city of Round Rock)
Planned improvements along Wyoming Springs Drive are more than 20 years in the making, Round Rock Transportation Director Gary Hudder said. (Rendering courtesy city of Round Rock)

Planned improvements along Wyoming Springs Drive are more than 20 years in the making, Round Rock Transportation Director Gary Hudder said. (Rendering courtesy city of Round Rock)

Image description
The Wyoming Springs project will extend the roadway from Creek Bend Boulevard to Old Settlers Boulevard, including adding bridges over Brushy Creek and Dry Fork Creek. (Rendering courtesy city of Round Rock)
Image description
Plans show a four-lane divided road with a shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists. (Rendering courtesy city of Round Rock)
When Round Rock resident Orieta Ender first moved to the city more than a decade ago, she was transfixed by the natural environment surrounding Hairy Man Road. A cultural site of the Tonkawa tribe, the area is also home to wildlife such as the Jollyville Plateau salamander.

Now she said she fears a planned extension of Wyoming Springs Drive—which would bisect the area—will put both its historic legacy and natural environment at risk.

“Being in this community for 11 years, the majority of people that live in this area are really, really against this project,” Ender said. “This is considered a very historical part of Round Rock.”

Paving the way

The Wyoming Springs project would extend the existing road from Creek Bend Boulevard to Old Settlers Boulevard, adding bridges over Dry Fork Creek and Brushy Creek. The extension would be a four-lane divided road with shared-use paths for pedestrians and cyclists.


The project has been on the table since 1998, when the city’s first transportation master plan was officially adopted, said Transportation Director Gary Hudder. As the city’s population continues to grow, the need for additional connectivity has only magnified, Hudder said.

“From a volume standpoint, we expect that it’s necessary,” he said. “Beyond that, it’s been more than 50 years since there’s been a new crossing of Brushy Creek in this area.”

Navigating natural environments

However, the city has acknowledged environmental concerns surrounding the project, which have also captured the attention of area residents. Ender founded local activist group Save the Trees on Hairy Man Road in December in an effort to preserve historic trees and tree canopies in the northwest area of Round Rock. The group has since garnered more than 3,000 members.

“They can show us how much the area is growing, but we still don’t think there’s a need for this project, taking into consideration the impacts on the environment and the historical value of this road,” Ender said.

In addition to raising concerns about historic trees, Ender’s group is concerned about threatening the habitat of the Jollyville Plateau salamander. Native to Travis and Williamson counties, the salamander has been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since September 2013.

Gauging public feedback

The city of Round Rock hosted a transportation open house Sept. 1 with public feedback accepted online through Sept. 22.

Hudder said the city is open to facilitating comments, critiques and concerns from residents as this is an early and evolving stage of the project. The project requires approval from local and state agencies regarding any potential environmental concerns, Hudder said.

Funding for the roadway will be provided through the city of Round Rock’s Type B funds, a dedicated portion of city sales tax, and Williamson County’s 2019 bond program, he said. At this time, the project costs are estimated at $15 million.

The project is currently in the design phase, with construction anticipated to begin late 2022 or early 2023, Hudder said.

“It’s a very complex project because of not only the development that we’re impacting that has been there for years, but also, it is environmentally sensitive,” Hudder said. “We knew that going in, and so we have to be sensitive to all those things.”

By Kelsey Thompson
Kelsey Thompson is the reporter for Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto, where her work focuses on education, city government and community development. Originally from Upstate New York, Kelsey relocated to Austin after graduating from Syracuse University in May 2019.


MOST RECENT

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic. (Courtesy Qygen, Wikimedia Commons)
Fry's Electronics calls it quits after nearly 36 years in business

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic.

A lone runner jogs on a snow-covered road in Austin. Transportation projects across the city were briefly paused due to Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power system was less than 5 minutes from collapse during winter storm

ERCOT's CEO offered details into what led to the massive blackouts that left millions of Texans in the cold last week.

cars on snowy road
Texas Disaster Declaration opens door to federal aid for losses sustained during winter storms

Individuals and businesses who sustained losses during the winter storm are eligible for federal assistance, according to a Texas Disaster Declaration approved

ERCOT president and chief executive Bill Magness (left) was joined by the electric grid manager's senior director of system operations Dan Woodfin on Feb. 19 for a briefing on the company's emergency operations. (Screenshot via ERCOT livestream)
ERCOT chief: 'We are completely back to normal operations' as of Feb. 19

Officials with the Texas electric grid manager also said they are preparing for state and federal reviews of this week's power outages.

H-E-B stores across Texas have limited store hours and placed purchase limits on some high-demand products due to ongoing severe winter weather, H-E-B officials announced Feb. 19. (Courtesy H-E-B)
H-E-B, Central Market limit store hours, product purchases due to severe winter weather

H-E-B stores across Texas have limited store hours and placed purchase limits on some high-demand products due to ongoing severe winter weather, H-E-B officials announced Feb. 19.

Gov. Greg Abbott provided updates on the state's emergency response efforts during a Feb. 18 press conference. (Screenshot of April 17 press conference)
Gov. Greg Abbott: Power restored to nearly 2M homes in past day; statewide aid efforts continuing

While power generation has been restored to serve most Texas residents, Abbott said state agencies remain focused on water and food distribution Feb. 18.

Although tens of thousands of megawatts remain off the statewide power grid Feb. 17, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said relief is on the way for many Texans within the next 24 hours. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Abbott: Power restoration on the way for 1M households in next 24 hours

Although tens of thousands of megawatts remain off the statewide power grid Feb. 17, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said relief is on the way for many Texans within the next 24 hours.

Severe winter weather conditions led to outages throughout the Texas electric system this week. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
'Something that you could have planned for': How isolated Texas power grid, winter weather left millions without electricity

As of Feb. 17, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it was still working to restore electric service to customers throughout the state.

An Austin Fire Department truck drives down Manor Road on Feb. 15. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texans urged to use caution as carbon monoxide cases increase during power outages

Carbon monoxide poisoning calls have increased as people look for ways to stay warm without power and heat.

Many in Texas are battling power outages amid frigid temperatures. (Courtesy Rico Daniels)
Gov. Greg Abbott calls for investigation of ERCOT, Texas' electric reliability council

As of 1:20 p.m., over 4 million customers were out of power, according to ERCOT.

graph showing power demand out pacing grid capacity
Texas enters second day of blackouts

Although outages were initially intended to last for less than one hour, local grid operators are reporting longer outages.