While major construction on Oak Hill Parkway is not expected until early 2022, the Texas Department of Transportation has begun work on some elements of the project.

In the lead up to heavier construction, TxDOT will begin work on a sound walls, clearing and grading the project limits, and identification of caves and voids in the project area, said Brad Wheelis, a TxDOT public information officer. There will also be intermittent nighttime lane closures.

The $674 million project will create a freeway at the Y in Oak Hill, where Hwy. 290 and Hwy. 71 intersect. The project will add flyovers at the intersection and include up to three main lanes and frontage road lanes. According to the TxDOT website, the freeway expects to open to traffic in 2026.

Sound wall

As a result of the noise project construction is expected to produce, TxDOT will soon begin work on a sound wall along the south side of Hwy. 290 from South View Road to Scenic Brook Drive near the Ridgeview neighborhood, Wheelis said.

TxDOT opted to build the sound wall after looking into the increased noise resulting from the additional lanes and structures. Other considerations in its analysis included roadway slope, traffic volume and the type of vehicles likely to use the various stretches of roadway throughout the project, Wheelis said.

Wheelis added that TxDOT will begin work soon on retaining walls on Hwy. 290 west of Circle Drive.

Environmental considerations

TxDOT has also begun drilling operations in proposed bridge locations at the Y intersection to identify any Edwards Aquifer karst features.

“Karst is an area of water-soluble limestone terrain, which can include underground voids and/or caves,” Wheelis said.

If TxDOT identifies an area with karst features, it would work with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to determine if the void could be sealed or if any adjustments need to be made to the project design.

In addition to the karst operations, TxDOT has begun clearing trees, brush and other structures. Wheelis said that TxDOT is clearing and grading to provide room for the project’s improvements.

“Neighbors should expect noise and heavy truck traffic as part of this process. We ask for the community’s patience and understanding as we begin building Oak Hill Parkway,” Wheelis added.

The activity follows a ruling from a U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas judge that clearing trees and brush could continue Sept. 13. A group of Oak Hill neighbors filed for a preliminary injunction to halt construction, saying that TxDOT had not sufficiently considered the project's environmental impact. Opponents of the current design told Community Impact Newspaper after the ruling that they were continuing to work with authorities to revise the project.

Lane closures

Drivers traveling through the project corridor can expect intermittent nighttime closures through the rest of the year, with traffic pattern changes coming in early 2022, Wheelis said.

On Hwy. 290, eastbound traffic will be reduced to one lane between Wolfcreek Pass and William Cannon Drive from Oct. 19 to Oct. 21 beginning at 9 p.m. and lasting until 5 a.m.

On Hwy. 71, westbound traffic will be reduced to one lane between Hill Meadow Drive and Fletcher Lane from Oct. 18 to Oct. 19 beginning at 9 p.m. and lasting until 5 a.m.