TxDOT workshop evaluates future transportation options for Austin-San Antonio region

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The Texas Department of Transportation hosted a joint workshop Nov. 1 that included the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to discuss corridor connection options between the greater Austin and San Antonio regions. The meeting, which is part of a ground-up planning effort, took place at the New Braunfels Civic and Convention Center.

CAMPO board Chairman Will Conley called the workshop “a historic step forward” for corridor transportation solutions that will meet the demand for the area’s future growth that is expected to increase by an estimated 2 million people by 2040. The expected increase would bring the population to a projected 5.9 million—comparable to the current Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex population.

The workshop was part of the ongoing Capital-Alamo Connection Study launched by TxDOT this summer, when data collection and a current analysis of transportation conditions were evaluated.

Lauren Garduño, TxDOT director of project planning and development, said the study is unique because it overlaps both MPO areas and includes 12 counties. The affected area includes all counties that are part of the MPOs as well as a few bordering counties. Garduño stressed the importance of the two entities working together throughout the planning process.

During the workshop CAMPO and AAMPO board members identified current concerns, including a lack of options, funding, safety, congestion, rapid growth and a political lack of will. Three rounds of table discussions focused on needs and challenges surrounding infrastructure, policy and technology. TxDOT will use the feedback collected at the workshop to evaluate potential options before reconvening for a second workshop with the MPOs in the spring.

Roger Beall, TxDOT advanced project development director, said the goal of the study is to find solutions for “moving people and goods in a timely fashion, safely.” In addition to roadway congestion Beall shed light on the area’s rail systems, calling them “near capacity” as well as increased truck freight that is expected to double between 2010-40.

CAMPO Public Information Officer Doise Miers said TxDOT is considering all modes of transportation during this preliminary phase, including commuter rail and autonomous vehicles.

Garduño identified a key next step in the process as finding ways to capture engagement from additional stakeholders.

“I think everyone who lives in this corridor and works in this corridor should have a voice,” he said.

TxDOT plans to finalize its strategy recommendations in the summer.

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